MARY MAGDALEN'S Tears wipt off. OR The VOICE of PEACE TO AN UNQUIET CONSCIENCE.

WRITTEN By Way of Letter TO A PERSON of QUALITY.

AND Published for the Comfort of all those, who Mourn in Zion.

LONDON Printed by J. C. for T. Garthwait, at the Little North-door of S. Pauls. 1659.

Reader,

THe Publisher of this Trea­tise, having in his eye no fear of thy dislike, nor re­gard of thy applause; hath no other sollicitation, for thy perusal there­of, then the opinion he hath, that it may be serviceable, to the good of thy Soul. He thinks he shall be guil­ty of a very charitable mistake, if thou findest an errour in his con­jecture; and thou more obliged to offer, then he to ask thy pardon for it. To prescribe preventive or re­cuperative medicines, in a great [Page]Plague-time, is no piece of im­pertinent officiousness, but a prudent discharge of duty to the Publick. If thou be so whole, as not to need a Physitian; thou hast had good luck, having lived in so licentious an age, and a­mongst children that are Corrup­ters. Give God the glory of his Grace, and despise not the good wishes of thy Brethren.

A Short TABLE of the principall Contents in this Book.

  • OF the Secret and Revealed will in God. &c. page 12
  • Of the Day of Grace being spent. page 14
  • Of Sins of Ignorance and Wilfulness. page 19
  • Of Presumptuous Sins. page 20
  • Of Sins after Baptisme. page 22
  • Of want of Sorrow for Sin. page 26
  • Of Gods accepting Mens Persons. page 29
  • Of Personall Assurance. page 36
  • Of Sacerdotall Absolution, and Gods Ratifica­tion thereof. page 38
  • Of Esau seeking the Blessing, &c. page 50
  • The Example of the Israelites that provoked God Ten times in the Wilderness. page 52
  • Of Assurance of Salvation. page 54
  • Of the Witness and Testimony of the Spirit. page 56
  • The Combat between the Flesh, and the Spirit. page 63
  • Of the Motions to Sin in Regenerate persons. page 68
  • Of perfect and unsinning Obedience. page 73
  • Of the Measure of well doing in Holy and Ver­tuous Actions, as in Prayer, Alms, Fasting. page 75
  • S. Math. 19.12. He that is able to Receive it, &c. whether an Advice, &c, page 86
  • [Page]Of Loving the Lord with all our Soul, &c. and not doing every thing we have ability to do. page 89
  • Of Doing Holy and Vertuous Actions in the want of Charity. page 92
  • Of making a mans self the end of his Actions. page 59
  • Against the Fear of Death. page 98
  • Of the Falling away from Grace. page 103
  • Of Conversion. page 105
  • Of Relapses into Sin, and Injection of Blasphe­mous thoughts. page 107
  • Of Want of Children. page 112

MARY MAGDALEN'S Tears wip't off, OR The VOICE of PEACE To an Unquiet Conscience.

MADAM,

I Thank you for your Charity to me, in calling me to my Prayers, and shall by Gods Grace, endea­vour to requite it, by a counter-change of Charity, in praying for you, as you have desired me. I cannot say, that I am sorrie that you stand in need of being prayed for: we all do so, and they most of all, and the more for that, who think they need not other mens prayers: But Madam, as I cannot but admire your Humility in this pious request, (whose gracious Heart, like the Treasurie of the Temple, accepts of Mites as well as Talents) so, I am not a little a­shamed of mine own indigence, and empti­ness, and (which is worst of all) of my own [Page 2]unworthiness. I speak it in good earnest Ma­dam; and being by your call for my prayers become very sensible of my unfitness, at least for the Intercessional part of that duty; I can assure my self, that as I trust you will not be the worse; so shall I be much the better, for my praying for you.

But Madam, for my prayers only, I pre­sume you did not send me that Summons: I cannot then but esteem my self obliged, to render a duty to you, of the same impor­tance; but more immediately tending to the production of that effect, which you have desired me to pray for; and which (perhaps) if more timely, and individu­ally applyed, the Disease had not been so in­veterate, and raging as it is; nor you so di­strustful of the vertue and efficacie of Reme­dies as you are.

By some scattered expressions of my Friend, that delivered your message to me, I very confidently suspect your languishing under the wasting torment of a wounded Spi­rit: but How long, by what cause, or upon what occasion; I have no hint, upon which I may reasonably ground a Presumption. So innocent hath been that Act of your Life, of which I have been a Spectator; so rational, close, and undistracted your discourse; that I dare confidently affirm, no Indications of this secret Maladie did ever present them­selves to the most acute observer of your [Page 3]Conversation with us. My thoughts concer­ning such a State in general, I have judged it my duty to deliver; but how pertinent, or conducent to the removal of the particular cause of your trouble, I am not able to di­vine; for the reasons before mentioned.

1. The Soul of man comes out of the hands of her Creator, like a rich and curious Watch; carrying in her self, as the Causes of her own motion; so no disorder, till she fall under unskilful, or unruly fingers. Her first immersion into the Bodie, renders her not only lyable to the guilt of Original sin, but to the future turbulencies, and excesses of those faculties common to us and Beasts: which, because in them govern'd only by an uncontroulable instinct of nature, are wholly sinless, and have in them no other tendency, but the preservation of that creature in which they work: but with man it is much other­wise; whose appetites are subjected to a rational choice, under the penalty exacted by a Law, wholly commensurate with reason, and the noble dictates of a Soul, emancipated from the Suggestions, and delusions of flesh and blood.

2. Hence is it that she receives in us no wounds, but by our own hands: her Peace is never broken, but by Errours in our Electi­on; and that most times but radically nei­ther; the true resentment of our guilt and danger, being subsequent to a reflexive act of [Page 4]the Soul; from whence proceed those Smiting Thoughts, able to wear out, or rend an heart of Adamant.

The source or spring whereof usually are the consideration either 1. of what we have been; or of 2. what we are; or of 3. what we shall or may be hereafter; the guilt of sin acted, the prevalency of sinful dispositions in our nature, and of enormous habits in our persons; the fear of Relapses, and horrour of future punishments, are that which set mens souls upon Tenter hooks: and few there be, who have been guilty of any gross sin, whose Prepentance (if true) hath not given them some taste of this bitter Cup, apporti­onate to the course of their unregenerate life.

3. What we have been] is of the same la­titude in our Regeneration, from whence we are to compute our Spiritual life; as in our Creation, from whence we de­rive our Natural being. 1 Cor. 15.22. Ephes. 2.1. Rom. 11.32, Gal. 3.22. As from Adam all lived, so in Adam all dyed: all dead in Sins and tres­passes: God hath concluded all under sin, that he might have mercy upon all. Only the Difference is in the circumstances, some greater, some lesser sin­ners then others: some longer, others lesse while dead in sins and Trespasses: but the danger, without repentance, is the same to the sinner; the Cure the same to the Phy­sician. [Page 5]To him the same thing, to raise Jairus daughter to life, yet scarcely cold Mar. 5.22. as to bring Lazarus's stinking carcase out of his grave, John 11.43. Both supernatural works, and a supernatural Worker required to both: yet both effected without any In­tension of the power by which it was done, because insinitely able to work.

4. But as some of those blinde men, whom our Saviour restored to sight, saw at the very first as perfectly, as ever after: but others when their eyes were first opened, saw men as Trees walking, Mark 8.24. so are not the same apprehensions of their spiritual estate to all Penitents; though equally restored to Grace, and favour with God, and Federally justified from the guilt of past Sins. The Causes hereof are various, arising partly from the Complexi­on, and natural or acquasite temper of the Per­sons themselves; partly from some errors in such, who applyed to them the outward means, and ministration of their Repentance; partly from some outward accidents of life; and partly from the Suggestions, and Delusions of Satan, with such like.

Some persons are naturally more apt to impressions of Sadness, Fear, and Distrust, then are others. Penetrating and quick re­sentments of danger, once certainly incurr'd, render some weak spirits distrustful of their safety a long time after, be it never so sure and visible: like men startled out of Melan­cholick [Page 6]and frightful dreams, who although awake, cannot presently be perswaded, that they are free from peril. The very apprehen­sion of the danger, his churlishness and folly had cast him into, made Nabals heart dic within him. 1 Sam. 25.37.

It cannot be denyed by the strongest Chri­stian, that the guilt of sin once truly appre­hended, with all the consequents of horrour it draws after it, is able to sink a very clear and serene soul, into an Alysse of black, and sad thoughts: from which nothing is able to buoy, and raise it up; but the light of Gods countenance, shining upon, and influencing that spirit, by forcible assistances of Grace. But yet most evident it is, that the mourning of some Christians is like that of Rachel, they will not be comforted: yea so predominant in them, sometimes, is that torpid and pen­sive humour; that it converts comforts them­selves, into matter of discomfort: the good­ness, patience, and long-suffering of Almigh­ty God, together with his unfeigned offers of mercy, and pardon to all that truly turn unto him, (those high and excellent Cordials for soul-sick Christians) being by the pre­judices of a misguided Imagination, corrupted into most bitter jealousies, either against God or themselves.

Sometimes their spiritual troubles spring from the passions or unskilfulness of the Mi­nistry, under which such persons live: who [Page 7]either wanting the sagacity, dexterity, (or which is most to be feared) the Charity of the Apostle, 1 Cor. 19.20, 22. to become all things to all men; especially in that most Chri­stian and wholsome branch of it, the being weak with them who are weak, in the Flock of Christ; thunder out the threatnings of the Gospel, promiscuously in the ears of all; making their hearts sad, whom God hath not made sad, Ezek. 13.22. and so vexing them whom God hath wounded, Psal. 69.27. instead of calling, encouraging and comforting sinners under Repentance (that small and still voice) terri­fying them with the Menaces of the Law, (that loud and furious winde) and casting up­on men strong suspitions of their having e­lapsed the time of mercy; seeming to ante­date the great and terrible day of th [...] Lord, by taking the sentence of condemnation out of his mouth. Not considering, that the Mi­nisters of the Gospel have their Commissions dated from Sion, and not from Sinai; and that the method, and language of S Paul in the Pulpit, is not only more suitable to that Message of Peace, but most imitable by us; because it proved so successful, in the business of Reconciling men to God.

I know that a Son of Thunder may have much said on his behalf, from these evil and deaf times in which we live: to lift up the voice like a trumpet, and to shew the people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins, [Page 8]Isai. 8.1 is a dutie, strongly and indispensa­bly lying on a Minister of the Gospel at all times, much more in such an age as this we live in; wherein so many thousands of Chri­stians hold the truth of God in unrighteousness, Rom. 1 18. and turn his Grace into wantonness, Jud. 4. justifying not only Samaria, but So­dom and her Sisters; by outballancing her, and them, in all manner of carnal, and spiri­tual pollutions: but that we speak is mostly against the undue care of some Preachers of the Gospel, not sufficiently heeding and dis­criminating such, who mourn in Zion, Eze. 9.4. upon whose foreheads Ezekiels mark hath past, and against whom the severities of those Comminations ought not to be used.

Sometimes this Trouble of minde, (if it doth not wholly spring, yet) receiveth much strength and nourishment, from some Acci­dents of life. Every unusual circumstance in providential dispensations, in the apprehen­tions of such men, carries with it the Shape and Terror of Divine Revenge: and all lo­ving corrections, of a most wise and merci­ful Father, are reckoned upon, as the sad Pre­sages of everlasting Torments. Nothing but the angry frowns of a terrible Judge, flame­ing Torches, Fire and Brimstone, are the Sceanes and Phantasms of such clowded brains: yea, so sullen and distrustful, is the Repen­tance of such men, that they suspect every blessing, and good thing, that God bestows [Page 9]upon them in this world, as so many golden Balls cast out before them, to betray them in their Race. They eat, drink, sleep, converse with such anxiety of Spirit, that they there­by become intollerable to themselves and others. Again,

Satan most times hath a deep hand in these troubles; who being unchangeably malitious toward mankinde, incessantly disturbs the Peace of such Christians whom he cannot ruine. Yet so secret and close are his Devices, that many prudent Christians are not able (as indeed it is very difficult) to discern, betwixt his injections, and the motions of their own Appetites. By which error Satan exceed­ingly troubles their quiet, and sets them in­to perpetual quarrels against themselves, whereby he thinks it not impossible, at last to ingulph them in Despair.

To this may be added, that some False Principles have in them a very immediate tendency to beget trouble in mens mindes, who are of instable judgments, but yet of a good and ingenuous disposition: those especially concerning the Irresistibility of saving Grace, the necessity of ones believing himself to be Ju­stified, unconditionate Election to Salvation, with some others, whose falsity is plainly demonstrated, by many excellent Treatises of learned, judicious, and pious Divines.

Neither is it a consideration impertinent to the matter in hand, that there is a diffe­rence [Page 10]worthy our observation, betwixt Sin in the Memory, and in the Conscience of a sinner; the not perception whereof, may cause great trouble, and disquiet in mens mindes. For as the Conscience and the Memory are not re­ally one and the same thing; so neither is sin to be accounted of the same concernment to the sinner, when it is only represented by the Memory, and when charged upon him by his Conscience. Usually, proportionable to the measure of our Faith and Repentance is our Peace of Conscience; by these are the Marks and Characters of our guilt purged away by degrees: but the transient Act of sin commit­ted, is ever recollected by the Memory, appor­tionately to the natural vigour of the fa­culty in every man. And from hence it is, that in the fourfold distinction of Conscience, there is one sort which is said to be good, but not quiet: which (for my own part) I con­ceive to be an effect, produced betwixt the memorative and imaginative faculties; rather then a true, and distinct state of Conscience in a Christian; it being, to my understanding, equally possible for the Imagination, to act and personate Conscience (in some men) as well in the punitive and vindicative, as in the affirmative and interpretative power of Law. Where the Imagination (as conscience) may make Law to govern mens actions, as in some it confessedly doth: it is not disproportiona­ble to steason to believe, that Imagination [Page 11]may likewise perplex, and punish those men, for the breach of such Laws, as likewise Conscience doth.

5. But let the Causes and Occasions of these Distempers be what they will; be it the Con­science, or imaginative Faculty, or Memory, or all, or any other thing, that procures, or promotes this trouble; usually, these are the effects thereof, in sad reiterated Objections.

OBJECTION I.

My Sins are not as other mens, they are not the Spots of Gods Children: they have these Circumstances, that render them most formi­dable. They are 1. more then other mens, 2. greater, 3. more loved, 4. longer lived in, 5. less grieved for, then the Sins of other men.

SOLUTION.

6. PUt all these Circumstances together, but the last (which shall be an­swered by it self) your sins can be but great, many, loved, relapsed, and perhaps after sharp Corrections for them, Vows against them, sence of strength and ability through grace, to oppose, resist, and overcome them, and all the most powerful temptations to them, and this acknowledged, and owned [Page 12]by your self, in your impassionate, and de­liberate thoughts.

Now what hinders the Remission of such Sins? are these the first Scarlet sins that have ever been brought before the Throne of Grace, to receive another tincture by the hands of Mercy and pardon? is there any incapacity in the Sinner, any defect in the means, any qualification in the sins themselves, any barre or obstacle to the Judge, that these sins, that such a sinner should not be remitted?

What makes you uncapable of Pardon? any Decree concerning your person, in Gods secret Will? in his revealed Will there is no­thing but grace and mercy offered to you, be­cause to all that truly repent and turn unto him, Ezek. 18.21, 22. but if you suspect the Will of Gods purpose, what he hath deter­mined concerning your Person, in that Will. you must know, that as there are not two Wills in the Divine Majesty, nor two con­tradictory Acts of one and the same Will: So may you assure your self, that what may directly be concluded from his Revealed Will concerning the salvation of mankinde, you have your joynt-interest therein, with the rest of the Redeemed World: and that no Decree hath from all eternity been past against you, whereby a barre is set against all your good and square endeavours, and your person re­jected into a fatal necessity of being damned. Impossible indeed it is that such dormant At­tainders [Page 13]should lye against the Persons of some men, for the Prevarication and Rebel­lion of our first Parents, and yet that General Act of the Grace and Favour of Almighty God, be so solemnly proclaimed by that great Am­bassador of our Reconciliation, 1 Tim. 2.4.

OBJECTION II.

But I have made my self uncapable by losing the opportunities, and heretofore despight­fully using both the inward, and outward means of my Calling, and therefore justly is that fallen upon me, foretold and threat­ned in, Prov. 1.24. Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded, &c. v. 26. I will laugh at your Calamity, &c.

SOLUTION.

7. IF by the Opportunity or Season of re­penting unto Salvation, you mean one point of time, wherein God doth suffici­ently once for all, or as the last tendrie thereof, not only offer us the means of Grace, but al­so sufficiently prepare and dispose the Will to receive it: I doubt not, but that answer of our Saviour to his Disciples, Act. 1.7. will be very applyable to you, It is not for [Page 14]you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. As Grace it self is the free and undeserved guift of God, so are the circumstances of giving it, for time, manner, and measure, His; and disposed of according to the Will of his purpose, where­with you are not made acquainted, nor privie to any determination concerning your self, unless you have had, some known Reve­lation thereof. I believe that the Day of grace, as far as we are able to collect is not shut up; nor the Sun of Righteousness, that at our Sa­viours Baptism rose upon our Souls, with healing in his Wings, set, and gone down over us, till our life be ended. Some were called at the eleventh hour, when there was but one hour more to work in: yet by the bountiful pro­mise of the Lord of the Vineyard were re­warded with the penny, i. e. everlasting life, as well as they who bore the burden and heat of the day, Matth. 20.9. Sincerity of Reso­lution is pretious in Gods eye: and where sufficient time to approve the same by good works is not allowed; I doubt not of the savable state of that soul. Yet I do profess, not to believe, that such an one shall have an equal share of glory, with Saints of the first magnitude; neither can there in reason be so comsortable a posture of minde lookt for in such an one: this being most common­ly the Result of that experience we have of our own repentance, by bringing forth fruits [Page 15] worthy of it; which ought, when time and means permit, to carry in them a due pro­portion, to the continuance, and vileness of our former unregenerate life.

Now, though Almighty God doth some­time accept the will for the deed, viz. a firm and irrefragable Temptation-proof Resolution of Conversion for all future actual performances thereof; as being able to Foresee, that that man would perform his resolutions, in case God did permit him so much time: yet should no man upon this Consideration, deferre his Repentance, but rather most studiously im­brace the present time offered; not only for that this is to be interpreted an affront of the Divine Majesty, by turning the Grace of God into wantonness; but for that no man is assured, that ever he shall have any such late, and pre­tious minute vouchsafed unto h m; or if it be, can possibly have any assurance, that he will be true to his word with God, in his Vows and Resolutions; God alone, with whom all future things are present, being able to foreknow the soundness, and steadiness of such shipwrackt ingagers. And as these depen­dencies are seldom so successful (at least not so often) as many men imagine, and in Charity we may very farre hope; so would I have them to be esteemed, as such, which can have no right Aspect upon, nor incourage­ment from, the usual, regular Proceedings of the Divine Majesty: but are rather to be layd, [Page 16]on the unpromised excesses and superabundan­cies of an infinite goodness, extending it self to a sinner, Repenting him of his sins, be­yond the full and free limits of the first gra­cious Concession of Pardon: from a Rely­ance on which, as I would not deterre any the most grievous offender; whose neglects and former Supinity had cast him on this little Plank, in a Sea of Perplexities; so do I almost assure my self, that such a Christian, who dares continue in sin, upon the confi­dence of this superabundance of grace, shall never be partaker thereof; this being a Pearl of too incomparable a value, to be cast be­fore that Swine, who hath so contemptuously trampled it under his feet.

Yet, if you mark it, your Case is far dif­ferent from the state of such a man, who hath neglected (say despised) the offers of mercy till the last minute of his life, wherein he rather snatches after, then imbraces pardon; being more sensible of his own danger, then the love of God: for (blessed be God) you have not received any Summons, to a speedy account of your stewardship, by a decrepid old age, or a violent disease, or other contin­gency; but have made it your blessed choice, to double your Pace in the wayes of Holiness; having yet, (as far as we are able to guess) the Postmeridian part of your Day before you; time enough by the good blessing of God, to finish your Task which is set you, ere [Page 17]the night come wherein no man can work, Jo. 9.4.

As for your Despightfully using the Spirit of Grace, Heb. 10.29. (as you phrase it after St. Paul) an expression more suitable to a state of Apostacy than Ʋnregeneracy, (as you would have me suppose yours to be) as in your former course of life, you set (if I may be­lieve your self) too little an esteem, upon the wayes of God (the manner of unregent­rate men:) so have you now too bitter a cen­sure upon your own, the sins of our unrege­nerate life, being after conversion, by all Divines (I presume) accounted araungable, under the style of Infirmities; and therefore of what sort soever, yet pardonable upon Repentance.

OBJECTION.

I grant (say you) that it may be with some Christians as with St. Paul; he was a most violent Persecutor of the Church, but then it was in a state of Ignorance and Unbelief, and therefore he sayes, God had mercy upon him, because he did it through Ignorance, and in Infidelity: From whence 'tis easy to in infer, that had St. Paul maliciously and knowing­ly [Page 18]acted those outrages against the Church of Christ, he had undoubtedly been excluded from all hopes of Pardon; What think you then will become of me, Who knew the will of my Master and did it not.

SOLUTION.

8. THat Saint Paul did Ignorantly perse­cute the Church of Christ is unquestio­nable; and that if Saint Paul had done the same Knowingly, and Maliciously, he had not had any grounds to expect Pardon may pro­bably enough be true; but I do not take it to be out of all Question, but the Inference from hence against your self is Illogical, and will by no means follow upon those Premises. For thus your Argument stands, Saint Paul had mercy from God for persecuting the Church of Christ Ignorantly, therefore who­ever committeth any sin against Conscience and Knowledge shall not have mercy, and such sins I am guilty of.

I shall not stand to shew you the falsity of this way of reasoning, but only discover unto you how erroneous your Principles are, and that so evidently, as I need not torture you into a confession thereof; Do you profess to believe that there is an equality in all kinds of Sin? that Adultery is not a greater sin than Swear­ing? Murder or Idolatry than Sabboth breach? [Page 19]Rebellion than Theft? I am assured you are not involved in this gross error. But then do you believe, that that circumstance [of doing it Knowingly] can render the same sin unpar­donable, which if done Ignorantly will upon Repentance undoubtedly be forgiven. Who then can be saved? What were the sins of Da­vid and of Saint Peter? were they not sins a­gainst Knowledge, yet Repentance restor'd both of them to their former station in Gods favour, you cannot suppose that those per­sons with whom our Saviour converst, were all of them Sinners only out of Ignorance: Mary Magdalen was never held to be Ignorant (much less to be Inculpably so,) that her course of Life was not agreeable to the Law of God: yet so dear was she to our Saviour, upon her hearty Repentance, That after his Resur­rection he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom be had cast seven Devils, Mar. 16.9.

OBJECTION IV.

But under the Law the Soul that did ought presumptuously, was to be cut off from Israel.

SOLUTION.

9. WE are not under the Law but under Grace, and Saint Paul tells us plain­ly, [Page 20]that a main branch of that Priviledge is, That by Him, (i. e. Christ) all that believe are justified from all things, from which Ye (i. e. the Jews) could not be justified by the Law of Moses, Act. 13.39. from whence 'tis clear, that Remission of sins is given to all Sinners, who repent and believe the Gospel. Besides, every sin that a man commits against Know­ledge, is not a sin of Presumption, or a sin committed with an high Hand; Presumption is not an error of, or in the Understanding, but in the Will; at least is much more fixt in the Will, than in the intellectual faculty, and therefore to sin against Knowledge, and to sin Presumptuously are not convertible, and the same thing; Presumption being not only the highest degree of Wilfullness, and very properly plac'd under the v ce of Auda­city; but it reflects more upon the person of the Law-maker, than on the Law it self; and the contempt of persons in Authority is ever more grievously punished than the breach of such Laws and constitutions, as are made by them.

OBJECTION V.

[...] to relapse into sin, after not only Resolutti­ons but Vows against it, as they who sin after Baptism do, is intollerable and a sign of one [Page 21]that hath forfeited the Grace, that is given him, and is judicially hardned by God.

SOLUTION.

10. TO sin, and to relapse into sin after a Vow against it, is that thing indeed which every baptised Christian doth: and in those who are Adult, or at years of discreti­on (not invincibly ignorant of their Obliga­tion) is infallibly not only a very great Ag­gravation of sin, but a sin it self: and such an Offendour is (in very truth) not only a great Dishonor to the Gospell of Christ, but a great scandol to the Communion of Saints; dis-inherited (and that actually) of his in­terest in the Kingdom of Christ, whilest he continues in that state of Impenitency: but when the course is broken, the case is quite the contrary; and the Prodigal returning, capable of as benign and as hospital a Recep­tion in his Fathers house, as was that other Son, able to boast of his good demeanour from his Childhood. This is the case of Re­pentant Sinners, and for such it is, that when they (nay though but a single one) return, There is joy in the presence of the Angels of God. Luke 15.12.

But for the Ʋow in the Baptisme, I am not for the present) of opinion, that it is any aggravation of sin, till the baptised Person comes to years of Discretion, and hath ei­ther [Page 22]actually taken upon him the perfor­mance of his Baptismal vow, or else hath at­tain'd so much knowledge of his Profession, as that he hath, or may have information, that he was initiated thereinto, and admit­ted under such a solemn Stipulation. But when I speak of Actual taking upon him the performance of this Vow, I do not mean that solemn, direct, oral, and publick trans­ferring the Obligation on himself in Episco­pal Confirmation: but also the doing any Christian duty of Communion, whereby he doth (though but implicitely) own his Faith, and consequently his Obligation thereto, made on his behalf by Suretyes in his Bap­tisme.

And again, you must conceive, that every willfull sin against Knowledge and Consci­ence (even in those who are adult, and have Actually put themselves under the perfor­mance of the Vow) is no abdication of our Vow in Baptisme, neither do I apprehend that Person which so offends to be guilty of Perjury, upon every Act of such sin of Wil­fullness, no more than I believe, that every single disobedience of her Husband may be interpreted to be a perjury in the Wife, be­cause she hath promised, and solemnly vowed to obey him in the Mariage Con­tract.

I confess, that an habitual course of wil­full sin, in such as do own their professi­on; [Page 23]nay that any sin presumptuously commit­ted against the Divine Majesty, doth imply a breach of this vow, as well as final Apostacy; yea that the abnegation of any evident Fun­damental of Religion, as the Resurrection of the Dead, the Doctrine of the ever blessed and holy Trinity, (after first and second Admoniti­on, Tit. 3.10. &c. is) a breach of the Vow in Baptisme, but that every Act of willfull sin is such, is to my Apprehension no more a truth, than for a Christian of the Protestant perswa­sion to deny Christs local descention into Hell, (which hath no undenyable ground in Scrip­ture) and for that error (for to that Perswa­sion the Church is not infallible) to be held guilty of perjury in breaking, the second clause, or branch of this Vow in Baptisme, re­quiring him to believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith, as well as doth the first and third, exact from him a forsaking of the Devil, the World, the Flesh, and the keeping of Gods holy Will and commandements all the days of my life.

But let the most that you fear be granted, & you be held guilty of as many perjuries, as you committed other sins, and this not only in your own esteem, but in the opinions of lear­ned Divines, yet still this may render that condition to be more lamented, but it can­not make it irrecoverable; for is there any thing in Scripture more frequent than Gods Messages by his Prophets to the People of the Jews, calling them to repentance, & that after [Page 24] Covenant-breach, and promising them pardon if they would repent, and convert unto him? The Prophet Jeremy may supersede your searching any other Scriptures to this pur­pose who indeed is abundant in those pro­mises of Mercy, and therefore a Book very fit to comfort every penitent Soul, and like­wise as fit by reason of the Threatnings therein to convert the Impenitent.

As for that you speak concerning judicial induration, or Gods hardening mens hearts in Judg ement;Mat. 25.28. Luke 8.18. I confess, that there is a taking away the Ta­lent from the sloathfull Ser­vant, a withdrawing of Grace from him that doth not use it, to that end for which it was given him by God: but that such a judgement is not (ordinarily) revea­led, save by the treasuring up of wrath against the day of wrath, the final impenitence of him who is thus judicially hardened by God, will be difficult to prove, there being no very sure example of this Induration in Scripture, save that of Pharoah, in whom those consequents were most visible, and of those obstinate and incredulous Jews to whom our Saviour preach'd, or in whose pre­sence, or Country he wrought so many Mi­racles, mentioned in Mat. 13.14, 15. but that you are in danger of such judicial Indu­ration as this, is a very remote fear, and to my judgment wholly inconsistent with your pre­sent Christian Deportment.

OBJECTION.

But you say, my Sins are confessedly very great, (being accompanyed with such circumstances as they are) even withall the Allowances your Charity or Judgement can afford them: they cannot then but require a proportionable Grief for them, which as yet I find not in my self; Moses Rod that drew water from Rocks of the Wilderness, being not able to break and wound my stony Heart into Rivers of Tears, such as are fit to cleanse and wrince away these stains of Sin.

SOLUTION VI.

11. THis complaint is but a retrive of one of those Aggravations of your sins men­tioned by you at the first, and by me deferred to be satisfied at that time. I say therefore that it cannot be denyed, but that Grief for sin committed ought to bear some proportion with the heinousness of our Crimes for which we desire to grieve and lament: but you may be very unfit to judge of this proportion; espe­cially seeing your Grief and Revenge, with an intermixture of other Irascible passions, hath made you already too obnoxious to the devi­ces [Page 26]of Satan, 2 Cor. 2.11. and Peter three times denyed that he knew his Master, Mark 14.66. and that with Cursings and Swear­ings, Imprecations (perhaps) upon himself if he knew any such man, Luk. 22.55. Here was a Complication of very gross sins, as Swearing, Cursing, Denyal of his Master, whom lately he professed to be the Son of God; and all this a flat Perjury; yet you never read of Tears shed for these Sins more then once:Mat. 26.75. Mar. 14.72. Luk. 22.62. but then they are recorded to be Bitter ones, what they wanted in the Extrinsecal Proportion to the Standard of mans Judgement, they had in the Intrinsick value, most proportion­able to the Judgement of God.

You must know then, that Grief and Shame, and such like Affections of the Irascible Appe­tite, are parts of that corrective Justice, which we execute upon our selves; and very pro­perly on the lower Soul, because that hath been most instrumental in our Sins, and hath likewise had the greatest share of the Sensual Pleasure received in sinning; as also for that she is the most proper instrument to macerate and chastize the Body, (the other Associate and Conspirator in offending.) That which ought to give the greatest satisfaction to the Penitent, concerning the Truth and Measure of his Sorrow for Sin, is the Aversation of his Spirit and Minde to all former evil wayes, [Page 27]as such; with a full Resolution, and sincere Endeavour, to avoid and fly all Sin for the time to come, and to imbrace and practise most impartially, all Rules of Godliness, Righ­teousness and Sobriety, at what rate soever he purchase the performance of them; facili­tating his way thereto, by a frequent and prudent exercise of such helps of Mortifica­tion, as his Lord and Master Christ, and the Church his Mother, have recommended by example, or enjoyned by Precept.

Neither is there any cause to complain, that these Severe Courses are not reconcilea­ble to a cheerful manner of living in this World, so far as not to cast any torpid Lan­guishments on our frail Bodies, or to render our selves complyable with sober and honest Conversation: for they who have, and daily do make Tryal of these Rules and Canons for a Christian mans life, do not finde so much trouble in [...]e practice of them, as in the sad Reflections on their former Unregenerate State; which yet they may now contemplate with Glory to God, and Comfort to them­selves, who through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, hath given them the Victory over so Unwearied, so Politick, and so Powerful Enemies to their salvation: if Rea­son can perswade you, that it is matter of Sadness for a man to pass through rough and dirty wayes, that he may in short time go and be possest of a Kingdom; or if you can [Page 28]imagine, that that man hath reasonable cause of Complaint, who is sure to escape the Bloody Hands of Assassines, if he will but take the pains to Winde himself after a sure Guide, through a narrow Path, beset here and there with Briars and Thorns; then, and not else, hath that man cause to complain of the unchearfulness of an Holy Life, who hath engaged to follow Christ his Leader, in the Duties and Contingencies of so Noble a Profession.

OBJECTION VII.

But I still fear the Issue of all my Travails; not thinking any thing too Dear to be bought, or too Heavy to be borne, so I might be assu­red to finish my Course with joy: I am told by my Saviour himself, that many shall seek to enter in at the straight gate, and shall not be able to enter. If my former Sins be not pardoned, all I do will be to no purpose; the not accepting of my Person will render all the good I do contemptible, and punishable by God, as being so many guilded Sins, as such moral Works are wont to be called.

SOLUTION.

12. IF nothing but your Pardon in your hand will satisfie you, and shake off the Scruples and Perplexities of your mind; you must know that this Pardon and Justifica­tion of ours, is rather under Promise now, and by Title of Law, then Actually pas'd upon our Souls in this Life: yet are not we the less se­cure of it, for the Word of God is unchange­able; but no man hath reason to expect, with Ʋnconditionate and Absolute Assurance, what must depend upon our own Co-operation with the Grace of God. And though God hath assured us, that He will not forsake us, till we forsake Him, no nor presently then neither; yet what assurance we shall have of our own endeavours, must be sought for in the promises of God made & perform'd to his gra­cious Servants, and also in our own free Wills, and the preseverance of them in Grace dayly and minutely begged of Him in Prayer.Luke 19.26. 1 Cor. 15. ult. 2 Pet. 2.9. Phil. 1.6. God first gives us grace to ask, then commands us to ask, then helps our Infirmities in asking, and promises he will give if we ask as he hath bid us; if then our wants be not supplyed, where will the fault lye but in our selves? Grace is cheaply enough obtained, if it may be had for the asking, and increas'd for the using.

But being you speak of Gods not accepting your Person, as if that had so necessary and immediate an influence upon all your practice, that not only nothing were accepted without it, but every thing for it and from it; we will a little consider that expression, as it is used in Scripture, with reflection upon the erro­neous doctrine wherein you seem to me to be (I believe unwittingly) involved.

To accept any ones person hath in Scripture a two-fold sense: sometimes it is taken in a good sense, but not often, so in 1 Sam. 25.35. where David being interceeded with by the eloquence, wisedom, and presence of Abigail, changeth his determination of destroying her Husband Nabal and his Family, and this is there called an accepting of her Person. In a bad sense it is more usually found, so God for­bids the Ministers of Justice to accept Mens Per­sons: Lev. 16.15. and in this sense it is, that God will not accept the Persons of Men, 2 Sam. 14.14. Mat. 22.16. Gal. 2.6. yea in this sense the Person of God Himself may be, but must not be accepted, as in Job. 13.7, 8. Will ye speak wickedly for God, and talk deceitfully for him? will ye accept His person? wherein Job admonisheth his Friends that they should not argue for God (with opinion thereby to vindicate his Justice) from false Allegati­ons of Jobs Hypocrisy. So do those men, who equivocate, or lye, steal, rob, commit Sacriledge and murder for Gods glory, &c. accept the per­son of God.

When therefore the Phrase of [accepting of mens persons] is used in a good sense, it sig­nifies thus much, that the person of such a man in conjunction with his good qualifications, or deserts, is accepted & rewarded: but when it signifies to a bad sense, then it imports thus much; that such a Man is accepted, favour'd, or rewarded, without any intuition of his Qualifications be they good or evil; this is Partiality and Injustice, and we may not use it even for God himself.

Now by your Objection, I conceive, you believe that he is an Accepter of Persons in this last sense, viz. an absolute Elector, who out of the mass of Mankind corrupted, did by vertue of his Soveraign power, and Omnipotent will, irrespectively choose some few mens Per­sons, and reprobate Myriades of others, with­out any previsional regard to their Works, expresly contrary to that of Saint Paul, Gal. 2.6. where the Apostle sayes, that God re­spects no Mans person, (the Gentiles being as e­ligible in Gods eye, as the lineal seed of Abra­ham, of which the Jews could not easily be perswaded;) neither Iames nor Peter who seemed to be Pillars, being preferred and re­spected before Saint Paul, (a late abortive Convert,) by Him who seeth not as Man seeth. And therefore if God hath not elected some, and reprobated others, without prevision and Intuition of their Qualifications; as fore­seeing what good, or what bad, or what no­use [Page 32]men would make of Grace given, and consequently, thereby assure or divest them­selves of the Advantages and Priviledges of Gods common Love to Mankinde; your fear of not being accepted, because God hath from all Eternity some Quarrel or No Love to your Person, is not only frivolous, but dangerous, and in it self destructive of all your Labours and Endeavours for eternal Life; keeping them under the dismal, and false Apprehen­sion of Tyranny in the Divine Majesty, which the Heathens themselves rejected, under the Notion of Superstition.

To be short, I shall only confront the An­swer of God to Cain, Gen. 4.7. (whom I be­lieve the Assertors of that Doctrine have ever held to be a Reprobate) against the strong­est Argument that may be used for inducing and confirming the belief of this prosopolepti­cal way of electing and reprobating men, without any intuition of their good or evil deeds: [If thou do well, shall thou not be accep­ted?] from whence are inferred these two things; First, that Cain himself might have offered an acceptable Sacrifice to God as well as Abel; and Secondly, if he had done so, he had been accepted by God, as well as was his brother. So that it was not any Quar­rel and Hatred that God had to the Person of Cain irrespectively considered; but either to the evil that he had formerly done (for we cannot presume Cain to have lived without [Page 33]sin, till the time of the offering that Sacri­fice, nor doth the Text assert, that to be the first Sacrifice, that either he, or Abel offered) or that which he had now committed in of­fering a Sacrifice not worthy Gods accep­tance at his hands.

What reason therefore you should have to fear the success of your Labours in the Lord, upon Misprision of Personal Acceptance with God, you see by what hath been said; as also of your groundless fears of not being able to enter in at the straight Gate; our Saviour ha­ving (if you mark it) threatned, not them who strive (because he hath commanded that active, industrious way of attempting) but them who only seek, Luk. 13.24. [...]. (a way of getting Heaven very different from the former) importing very little more (though no more to the purpose) than Ba­laams Wish, that he might dye the death of the righteous. Numb. 23.10.

OBJECTION VIII.

But though it will follow from hence that Perso­nal Assurance of Remission and Pardon of Sin, be not alwayes a necessary effect of Gods pardoning of us, or our being in a way to be pardoned: yet surely it is somewhat un­likely [Page 34](say you) that the clean contrary, viz. a perswasion that I shall not be pardoned, should flow from so happy a condition, as you would make me believe I am In.

SOLUTION.

13. IF you should throughly examine your self; that you do thus per­swade your self, will undoubtedly appear to be false. For to what purpose do you then pray, fast, and give alms, lead a strict and se­vere life, &c. if you were indeed perswaded that you shall not be saved? would any one but a mad man keep on his pace, in rough, and almost impassable wayes, if he were cer­tainly assured, that he should never come to his journeys end? his feet must needs be thought to confute his tongue, if he should do thus.

Besides how preposterous a thing were it, if you should take such sharp and severe cour­ses, as you do, to enlarge your score, sup­posing all these Actions of yours should be charged by God upon your account, as so many guilded sins, as you lately termed them? But this, I think, you will have little reason to be afraid of, seeing our Saviour hath told you, that the Alms-deeds and Prayers of the Pharisees themselves were so rewarded, as they desired they should be, (viz. with the Praises and Commendation of men, Math. 6.16) [Page 35]and are not by him either stil'd sins, or threatned with any punishment, more then with the no-ground of expecting a Reward from God.

But as concerning the pardon of our sin, it will be very useful to observe these four things. 1. That the point of Faith, concerning Remission of Sin, is, That by Christ, Remission of Sins is given to Mankinde through Faith in his Blood. 2. That this Remission is not ab­solutely, though freely given; but doth depend upon certain Conditions or Qualifications, whereby men are made fit and capable of re­ceiving it. 3. That the Rules as well for the means of conveying this Donation to us, as for our aptitude and capacity to receive the benefit thereof, are to be sought out and ta­ken from the Scriptures. 4. That because many things of Importance, concerning this doctrine, are to be deduced from the Scri­ptures, by the Mediation of humane under­standing, it is a mark both of Piety, Wisdom, and Humility, to take the Catholique Church for our Guide, and relyance therein. False Interpretations of Scripture, prove either full of Perplexity, or Danger, or both, to our selves and others; but most especially in such Doctrines, so nearly importing our Salvati­on, as this of Remission of Sin doth. There­fore it is not to be regarded, by what Med­ums, or from what Principles your conclusi­ons are drawn, if they be only your own: if [Page 36]you mean to sayl securely amidst the Tem­pests raised in the World by such diversity of Judgements and Imaginations, embarque your self in the Ʋniversal Consentient, and Ancient Interpretations and Doctrines of the Church; and do not adventure so pretious a Fraught, as is your soul, redeemed with the bloud of Christ, in the tottering Boat of your own, or other mens private Interpretations of Scripture. The Church teacheth you this do­ctrine, viz. 1. That you are pardonable upon your Faith and Repentance. 2. That God hath promised (who cannot lye, Heb. 6.18.) that he will pardon you, if you believe and and repent. 3. That the Manifestation of Gods pardoning your sins, is at present but imperfectly, and inchoately wrought in your Heart by the Holy Ghost, and the use of Sacra­ments; but the full Evidence thereof is to be expected from Christ the Judge, and to be patiently, and chearfully waited for by Faith in the promises. 4. That the Testimony of your own Spirit, arising from your sincere conversation in the doctrines of the Gospel, is the most certain Evidence, that you or any man can ordinarily expect in this life: and all this from pregnant Testimony of Scripture.

For you, who hold a lawful and uninter­rupted Succession of Ministers in the Church of Christh, you cannot but believe, that in the hands of the Church lyes much of your Peace, as well as of your safety: consider­ing [Page 37]the Power they have over you, Heb. 13.17. and the Power they have for you, John 20.21.22.23. and both these derived down to this present Age, and shall so continue wheresoever the Church shall be, (though there be no necessity that they should be con­tinued wheresoever Christians are) by ver­of our Saviours promise, even to the end of the World. And these powers to be pleaded for by them, and submitted unto by you, as be­ing of Divine right; framed and appointed by the Holy Ghost, (the principal Admini­strator of Church-Government) for the Ad­vantage and Edification of the Bodie of Christ.

I doubt there be some, and those no in­considerable ones, that believe this doctrine not sufficiently asserted by the Church of En­gland, there being in the Frame and Contex­ture of her Church-Government, too much of the Lay, and too little of the Clergy-man. And though my Judgement tells me, that there is not any Civil Magistrate on earth, be he Emperour, King or Prince, that hath so Evident, and Immediate a Commission for his Power, and the Exercise thereof, as hath the Church: yet who sees not, that both the Ad­ministration, and the Administrators of this Government are despised, save in such a sub­ordinate way of dispensing this power, that must needs render it precarious in the eyes of ignorant men, and the Church Officers them­selves, [Page 38]no other things, but such borrowed Hands, as by pulling, now this way, now that way, help to keep the carriage of the Civil State from overturning in rough and dangerous Descents

OBJECTION IX.

But you say, that could you have believed the point of Sacerdotal Absolution, and the Obligation (that seems to inferre) to pri­vate Confession; you had long since en­joyed your Peace, at least you had not felt so great a trouble as now you do.

SOLUTION.

14. OUr Judgements no whit differ in this, for I clearly believe, that on earth, as there is no surer way to prevent mens falling into sin (especially many close Enormities) then the discreet and consciona­ble practise of the Duty of Confession: so is there not a more proper and undoubted way, for allaying the Troubles of minde, flowing from the guilt of Sin; then a grave and con­siderate Execution, of the Power of Absolving Sinners.

I say the power of absolving Sinners; for if this Clause in his Commission stand not good [Page 39]by Divine Right; I know nothing a Priest can do more then other men; and am well assured, that in some part of their Office, they can do (many of them) much less. Not to signifie any thing of the grief I have, for your not believing so evident Texts of Scri­pture, as this Doctrine is built upon; I shall en­deavour to cut up your Infidelity in this point by the Roots, by a very brief Exami­nation of these few particulars. 1. What the power of Absolving is. 2 Whether it be con­veyed down to the present Pastors of the Church, in the ordinary way of commissioning them to that Function, by the Imposition of the hands of Bishops and Presbyters. 3. Of what concernment this Power is, in the Execution thereof, upon Penitent Sinners.

1. The power of Absolving Sinners, is com­prehended in one branch of the power of the Keyes, viz. remitting sin: expressly mention­ed in Christs Commission given to the Apo­stles and their Successors, Matth. 16.19. and Joh. 20.23. which in the point in hand, as it much differs from re-admitting into the Church, (that part of the power of the Keyes which seems, and doth but seem to be the same with this) so is it in a Priest or Presbyter (to my Judgment) no judicial, but rather an Annuntiative act, the Priest being none of that order to whom the promise of our Sa­viour is made, Matth. 19.28. of sitting on twelve thrones, and judging the twelve Tribes of Israel. My reason for my opinion is, be­cause [Page 40]a Priest cannot be thought to Absolve otherwise, then he can Retein (else there will be more in one, then in the other of the cor­relatives,) Now a Priest doth not retein sin judicially (for that is the office of the Bishop, and is onely done by the sentence of Excom­munication) but declaratively only, shewing the Impenitents (whether collectively, or personally) that by reason of such or such Impediments, their sins are not forgiven; but not binding their sins upon them judicially, so that the Offender shall not only be obliged to repent, but also (as under the sentence of Excommunication) to sue for the removal of the Censure. Like as in the Law, one who is sued to an Outlawry for Debt, must as well procure the Writ of Outlawry against him to be reverst, as take care to pay the Debt.

Neither do I by this, make the pronouncing of a sinner absolved, by a Priest, to be of no more efficacy then if a Layman had done it: for a power to pronounce or proclaim a Pardon in the name of a Prince, by vertue of a Com­mission issued out to one for that purpose, or by one to whose office it belongs so to do; is quite another thing, then the same Pardon re­ported by one, who hath no power and autho­rity to proclaim the Princes pardon.

But if I am thought by this to infringe the power and priviledge of the Sacerdotal Fun­ction, and any way to lessen the Authority of that Order; I must speak my minde freely, [Page 41]I do not conceive that the same words in the Ordination of a Priest, do in the Intention of the Church signify to the same latitude, as they did in the Institution of Christ, and there­fore I believe a Presbyter or Priest, doth no (more, but yet as much) in this point, as the Church hath invested him with in her Ordina­tion of him to that Function; which is the exercise of an Authority limited, as I have already said.

However this is enough for the Penitent, for if the Priest hath Judgment (which in Reverence to the Church which hath had In­spection of his abilities we ought to believe) to discern when the Penitent is pardonable, you cannot deny but he hath authority com­mitted unto him, in Gods Name, and from his Word, to let the Penitent know, not only that he is pardonable, but that God will un­doubtedly pardon him, and all such as he is; in case of their Perseverance in their Re­pentance.

2. As for the second thing proposed, viz. whether this power be so conveyed down, &c. it is strange, me thinks, it should be any mat­ter of scruple to you. For if you had not some prejudice to every thing that relates to pardon of Sin, I would ask you (and do ve­rily suppose should go away without an an­swer) whether you believe a Presbyter hath power to consecrate the Elements in the bles­sed Sacrament, by vertue of this Ordination? [Page 42]and whether a Lay-man can do as much therein, if he should take the Common prayer Book, and read over the Bread and Wine, the Form of the Consecration? I know you be­lieve the later as much as you believe the former. What hinders then, that this branch of power should not be conferred upon him in his Ordination? The Authority conferred upon the Church by Christ is the same in both, and both are by the Church (with due Limi­tation) invested on the Presbyter in his Or­dination. And good reason it should be so, for I doubt not that the Sacrament ought (re­gularly) to be administred to none but absol­ved persons; as none were to eat the Pass­over, but those who were clean from all Legal pollutions. We see that the Presbyterians, and all other Sectaries amongst us, are so ten­der of this point, that they are so far from lessening the Authority of their Church-offi­cers in this particular, (or at least of the whole Church as they please to terme it) that they are much more rigid and severe, in execu­ting a Power like this, of their own making, then ever the Bishops were, in putting the power Christ undoubtedly gave them, in execu­tion. But I need not say much of this second branch to one of your perswasion.

3. Lastly, if you desire to know what ad­vantage, this is to a Penitent? I answer, that if a Penitent do but believe, as much of the Priests authority (though I shall be [Page 43]thought no very great friend to the inlarge­ment of it) as I have asserted; viz. an Annnncia­tive power from God not only to declare men Pardonable (as he doth in preaching the Gospel) but to pronounce them pardoned, upon inspection of their faith and repent­ance, as he doth in giving them absolution; he shall not only recieve comfort, by the Preists assuring him of the safety of his condi­tion, and of his redintegration into grace and favour with God; but shall enjoy the benefit of his prayers, whom God hath ap­pointed to that Duty most especially, and whom he hath promised to accept: toge­ther with the Blessing of the Priest (Blessing him in Gods stead as well as in Gods name) a favour which nothing but some lend Hoph­ni's, and Phinees's amongst the Clergie. Numb. 6.23.27. but multitudes of prophane Esau's amongst the Layety, could have had the skill or luck to have rendered so contemptible as we see it is, the punishment whereof (as likewise of Despising the Persons and Offices of such whom God hath appointed to serve at the Altar of Blessing, in many other particulars) both this present and many future unre­formed Ages shall (as well as have some pass't times) undoubtedly bear, even to the removall of the Golden Candelstick from among them.

That thus a Priest is inabled to do, is cleare from the Form of Absolution, appointed in the [Page 44] Liturgie of our Church to be used in the Vi­sitation of the sick, wherein as the Authority of the Church in that point, as also of the Priest, are plainly asserted, so is it matter of wonder, that so many Legall Protestants have such a slender respect for an important and necessarie duty, it is not to be believed that either that Power of the Priest that form of absolution, and the Duty of Confession are reserved to be huddled up in so troublesome an hour, and all the time of health past over without any inquiry into our Accounts: the Church injoyns it to be used then, but doth not forbid the use of it at other times. My advice to you is that if you desire the reco­verie of your own Peace of conscience; you put this Duty in practise more frequently, and see that your Ghostly Father, do his Duty in this and no other forme of Absolution, (I mean any of his own making) least by some error he may seem to do more then his power will permit him, or not do as much as the Church hath enjoyned.

OBJECTION X.

You will say perhaps what settlement of Consci­ence by a Sacerdotal Absolution? seeing the Priest can but see, with the eyes of a Man, and hath no Knowledge of my heart; [Page 45]which is so Deceitful, that it is a very great difficulty, for any man to finde it out, though it lodg in his own breast, and if he had knowledge thereof, yet is the Act but Ministe­rial, not Dispoticall, and who knows whe­ther God will confirme it or no.

SOLUTION.

15. THe Priest seeth but as man seeth, but he may see what you see not, and judge better of what he sees then every common person, seeing the lips of the Priest do preserve knowledge. If therefore he have understanding to discerne and judge aright of what he sees, (as you must suppose he hath, else you will (at least) condemn your self of an unreasonable choyce) it is your buisiness, to lay your Soul before him; and to acquaint him throughly, and truly, with your Condition: if you fail in this (and consequently the Act be done under an error) the blame hereof will light on none but your self. And as for the know­ledg of your wayes, there is no doubt but if St. Pauls Rule be true, though nothing else without us but God doth, yet the Spirit of a man doth know the things of a man, 1 Cor. 2.11. and the heart may be Emptied to the very bottom, by such rules as a judicious prudent and pious Confessor shall prescribe.

But in the later part of your Objection, I am sorry to hear any question made of Gods confirmation of that due and necessarie Act of Absolution made in His name, and by vertue of a Commission derived from him. Any thing of this nature amongst men, would sound too infamous, especially if fixt upon such Persons who have the Power and Ho­nour of Giving commissions to other men. To question Gods faithfulness, is a sin of infideli­ty, and he that hath promised under the se­cond covenant, he will remember our Sins and Iniquities no more, Heb. 8.12. i. e. of such as embrace the Gospel preach'd unto them.

14. To conclude my Answer fully to these two last Objections, I suppose, that because we have no visible bloody Sacrifice, nor a Most­holy (on Earth) into which the High-Priest may enter with blood for his own and our Sins, it is therefore a matter of difficulty in your judgement to be ascertained of the way of ob­taining pardon for Sinners under the Gos­pel; the means of doing it being so secret and invisible, and the Threatnings (in case it be not done) so open and terrible.

The Apostle tells us plainly, That Iesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever: Heb. 13.8. which imports not only the im­mutability of Gods accepting Christ, as the meritorious cause of Remission of Sins, but also the unchangeableness of that method, whereby this Kingdom of Christ under the Gosper is [Page 47]administred. For this later, which most con­cerns your case, the Apostle tells you, that Christ ever liv [...]th to make intercession for us, Heb. 7.25. this being the most considera­ble part of his Office in the administration of his mediatory Kingdom. This Iatercession for us, i. e. the Church in general, and each one in particular, being his own immediate Act in Heaven, (and prefigured unto us by the High-priests going into the Most-holy, once only in every year, Heb. 9.8.) doth consist of two branches, because it supposeth that we have need of two things, Justification and Sanctification, therefore doth our High-Priest intercede with his Father for two things; for 1. pardon of Sin, for 2. grace of Obedience, or holy living; and these not intermitted, but continued Acts of intercession for us, to the end of our lives, and for all unto the end of the world.

And this Act of Christs Intercession for par­don is two fold; First a preventive act of In­tercession, (or rather the beginning of an Act continued to higher degrees) whereby Christ doth intercede with God for us, that the Le­gal forfeiture of our lives by sin, may not be taken immediately after the Fact; and also that Grace of Repentance may be given us: of this nature I conceive that Intercessional prayer of our Saviour, Luk. 23.34. Father forgive them, they know not what they do. Where though the giving to such men Repentance [Page 48]be not exprest, yet is it (questionless) imply­ed, because without Repentance they cannot be pardoned. The second branch of this Act is a subsequent mediatorie act of prayer, or [Plea] with God (for so much the word Ad­vocate will bear, (if any man sin, we have an Advocate, &c.) on the behalf of the sinner repenting; whereby Pardon is procured for him, upon Gods Foresight, that his Contri­tion and Repentance will be sincerely con­tinued, by the vertue and efficacy of the grace of perseverance, which is interceded for by Christ, and obteined, upon the Peni­tents using the former measure of assisting grace; and this, as a blessing upon, and a re­ward of his sincere endeavours of obedi­ence.

This later branch of Christs intercession for pardon, is that, whereby Christ the Media­tor doth receive into his protection, the humi­liating acts of a penitent soul, perfuming the Tears and prayers of such a one, with clouds of his own most precious Incense; and toge­ther with his own, offering them to Allmigh­ty God, as the fruits of his former Mediation, and an earnest of that enlargement of his Church, which, as it is the travail of his soul, Iai. 53.11. which he delights to see, so will it be the joy of the holy Angels in the presence of God.

16. Upon this Intercession of Christ, de­pends our pardon of Sin, and renovation by [Page 49]Grace: from hence it is, that all but Apostates, and such as cease not to do despight to the Spi­rit of God, by a continued presumptuous and malitious course of Sinning, receive a bene­fit apportionate to their several Stations and Degrees. And that you have no reason to think your self rejected, into the fatal portion of them, (being indeed the purchase of the sinner himself, thus cruel to his own soul) who have no advantage, (nay not the great­est of all) by this Intercession of Christ: your Eyes fill'd with your Tears, and your Ears deafned with your own Sighs, your Hands so busy in distributing Alms, your Feet so Active in visiting the Sick, and your Knees made callous (like the Primitive Saints) with frequent Prayings, are a sufficient witness to your self, and to all the world beside.

OBJECT. XIII.

But you Reply. Did not Esau seek the Blessing with Tears, and yet miss'd of it.

SOLUTION.

17. BUt I presume you think St. Paul hath put this Objection into your mouth; but if you please to survey the place in Hebr. 12.16, 17. you shall finde that this [Page 50]doth not reach you, unless you have at any time sold the blessing for a mess of pottage, i. e. renounc't your interest in the land of Promise, (the pretious promises of the Gospel,) for the enjoyment of that Plenty, Honour, peace, &c. the Pomps and vanities of this wicked World; I say renounc't your part and interest in the Merits and Mediation of Christ; and that not indirectly and remotely (as all who are guilty of wilful sins in some measure do) but orally, scandalously and treache­rously; which (I presume) you will not forge, and charge upon your self; though your fancy hath a large Shop, and many Tools to work with.

Seeing then, that by vertue of that preven­tional act of intercession, (lately mentioned) you have not been cut off in your sins; but have your life given unto you for a prey; and withal, Grace for Repentance unto life, which like good Physick, by reason of a mass of crude humors in the Stomack) doth thus work somewhat violently in your soul; why should you doubt that other subsequent Act of Christs Intercession, whereby your pardon will be ob­tained? hath God pleasure in the death of him that dyeth? doth not he swear he hath not? Ezek. 33.11. and hath the Divine Majesty so far lost his credit with you, as not to be be­iveled upon his oath? can he which is Love it self, not only scorn, but hate the Prostrati­ons of a Sinner? that Sinner, whose eyes [Page 51]would be content to pour out Rivers of bloud before the throne of Grace, to obtain a Re­conciliation with the offended Majestie of Heaven? even that Reconciliation which Himself prayes from us men, by the Ambassadors of his Holy Gospel, as St. Paul hath told us, 2 Cor. 5.20. O do not thus struggle to de­prive your self of your interest, and share in those merciful imbraces, which hasten to meet, and not fly from Repenting Sinners!

OBJECT. XIV.

But yet still, me thinketh, my Sins are such, as God cannot in Justice pass by; his promises are too pretious to belong to me; more tem­perate Sinners, and such who have not so violenced the Law of God, and provok't his Long-fuffering, may (doubtless) have the benefit of them: but as for me, why should not my Lot be with them, who but for ten times provoking were for ever secluded the Land of Promise.

SOLUTION.

18. YOur Charity is very commenda­ble, that can make you believe so much for others, and so little for your self: but you should do well to remember, that the [Page 52] Attributes of the Divine Majesty, may not be li­mitted by us; not that I think any one so foolish, as to attempt it in respect of their nature, which is impossible; but in respect of their effects which to do is sinfull, they are infinite in their own nature, and must be so in our esteem: to say God cannot forgive your sins, is a sin against his power and justice; to say he will not (where he hath promised) is a sin against his truth and goodnesse. His goodness hath made him promise that he will do it; and that he might make this pro­mise good, he hath provided a full satisfaction to his justice, and all this as much before us, as without us, and this limited as fully and as largely to you, as to any other Christian in the world.

This you cannot but see, in that most comfortable and full affirmation of the Apo­stle. Heb. 2.9. When he tells you plainly that it was the design of Gods Grace. That Christ should tast death for every man: and God so loved the World (saith St. John. cap. 3.16.) That he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.

As for that example of Gods wrath upon the Provoakers, (which you think doth so neerly concerne you, because you have sin­ned willfully more then ten times;) you must give me leave to tell you, that you are very unfortunate in your application of [Page 53]Scripture; this example not reaching home to your case, indeed over-reaching it more then Jonathans third arrow did the Lad that fetcht the other two. 1 Sam. 20. For the Caution given by the Apostle to the Hebrews, in that place is, that they take care of falling a­way from the Gospell, upon temptations or persecutions; and so after the example of many already fallen from the faith of Christ, should become Apostates; whereby they might be sure that the promises of the Gos­pel, should be no matter of advantage to them, because they should be as certain ne­ver to enter in Gods rest; as were those pro­voakers in the Wildernesse, who for temp­ting God so often, were finally by Gods Oath excluded, from all hopes of entring into the Land of Canaan; their Carkesses falling in the Wildernesse, as the trophees of Gods ven­geance upon them, for their infidelity of his power, and goodnesse, and promise.

This (I doubt not) doth clearly appear unto you (unlesse you have engaged never to repudiate your pregnant fancy, how Spurious soever her conceptions are) to be of no con­cernment to your case: who carry in your breast, so many witnesses of your belief of the Gospell, especially the threatning part of it, that (as your posture is for the pre­sent) to fear your Apostacy from the faith of Christ; were an apprehension too remote from all excuses allowable even to persons of your temper.

OBJECTION

Yet who knows but I may fall away? I am not yet perswaded that I shall be saved.

SOLUTION.

19. THough my prayer to God for you is that you may not be so perswaded totally, and finally, yet if any one should be so, it doth not therefore follow, that such a one is fallen from the faith of the Gospel: for the belief of this is so far from being a disbe­lief of the Gospel of Christ, that it is not so much a direct disbleif of any part of the word of God; because God hath no where declared by speciall affirmation, that such a man shall be saved. But be it that you were perswaded that you should be saved, neither of these two things would follow thereupon, either first, therefore I shall infallibly be saved, or 2. I am assured that I shall never be an Apostate, because I thus believe, for what text of Scrip­ture doth affirme this proposition, viz. he that is firmly perswaded that he shall be saved, shall never become an Apostate? or this, he that believeth he shall be saved, shall infalli­bly be saved?

In a word, had you an Assurance of your salvation absolutely, and unconditionately gi­ven unto you, by all the Divines in the world; yet was this but an humane assurance, and [Page 55]could amount to no more, but a testimony from men, the stability whereof would be as demonstrable as their own mortality, be­ing the evidence of this Proposition [you shall infallibly be saved] is taken from the will of Gods purpose concerning that man, to which secret will, of the Divine Majestie, mat­ters that concern Gods prescience do belong, though indeed the conditionall assur ance of a­ny mans salvation, doth relate to his reveal­ed will.

OBJECTION. XIV.

But doth not St. Paul. tell us Rom. 8.16. That the Spirit it self beareth witness with our Spirit that we are the Children of God? I want both these testimonies of my Adoption, that of the Spirit of adoption and that of mine owne Spirit witnessing that I am a Child of God: surely then my condition is not such as it ought to be, and as I desire it should be.

SOLUTION.

20. THat this Epistle of S. Paul (and especi­ally the 7th. 8th. and 9th. Chapters) hath in it some things that are hard to be un­derstood, those Esau, and Jacob-like contests in the Bowels of the Church about the mean­ing [Page 56]thereof, do sufficiently witnesse: I pray God that we may all of us, in the heat and animosity of our disputes, have an eye to that example of admonition St. Peter menti­ons of those in his times who being unlearned and unstable, did wrest those and other Scriptures to their own destruction. 2 Pet. 3.16.

But I am persasaded better things of you, and such as accompany salvation. And therefore to give you a full and tender account of your objection, I conceive it consists of 3. branches. 1. You suppose that every Child of God hath testimony that he is such. 2. that the Scrip­ture asserts the testimony to be twofold one the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, the other the testimony of his own Spirit. and 3. that you want both these and therefore hastily con­clude that you are not the child of God. To these I shall answer distinctly thus.

1. I do affirm with your supposition that every child of God, hath testimony, or wit­nesse, that he is such. I shall give you but one place for all, 1 Joh. 3.9. Whosoeuer is born of God doth not commit sin i. e. he is such a one as keeps a sincere Eye upon himself in respect of all, especially of deliberate sins.

2. In the 2d. I am likewise of your judge­ment, that this testimony is the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, and of his own Spirit; but whether it be necessary that a child of God have both these testimonies, giving the like full and joynt evidence for his sonship; and [Page 57]therefore till such full and joynt-evidence be given to him, he really is not (and therefore ought not to repute himself) a child of God is more then matter of doubt with you hav­ing (it seems) indissolvably espoused the ne­gative part. But I doubt you do not rightly apprehend what the Apostle doth mean by [the self same, or the Spirit it self bearing wit­ness] with our Spirrit, to me he seems to mean one or rather all of these 3. things, ei­ther 1. The Witness of Scripture (which in the testimonie of the Spirit of God) that such as believe in Christ Jesus, i. e. receive him as their Priest Prophet and King, are in­fallibly adopted into God paternall Relation to Christ Jesus, the adoption by Grace, as truely interessing those believers in Gods Paternity, as doth the Divine Nature Christ himself ac­cording to that of St. John. cap. 1.12. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that be­lieve on his name. and this testimony have all the sons of God, or all true believers. Se­condly it may signifie the aeconomy of the Gos­pell in opposition to that of the Jewes, whose state or condition, was that of Servitude; as ours under the Gospel is a state of Freedom they Servants, we Sons: they full of the Spirit of bondage, engendered from Sinai, we filled with the Spirit of adoption, flow­ing from Sion: Gal. 4.25. a sufficient evi­dence whereof is the divers Methods that God [Page 58]hath made use of, in delivering the System, or Rules of either dispensation unto both People. A 3d sence may be this; the Apo­stle may intend by the Testimonie of the Spi­rit in Gods Children, that Inclination and duct of Obedience which Gods Children do, (though not all of them in the same measure) feel in their hearts, sweetning their natures, and bringing them gently to a complyable­ness with the Precepts of the Gospel, and a putting their necks most willingly into the yoke of Christ, his Commandments being no whit grievous to them, 1 Jo. 5.3. like as yokes are very troublesome to Beasts not accustomed thereto, (as the Prophet speaks of the Jews, Jer. 31.18. I was chastised as a Bullock unac­customed to the yoke;) but to such whose necks have been used to draw in them, yokes are no way dreadful, or troublesome. In the first of these senses, the word Spirit must be taken personally, for the third Person in the ever Blessed and Glorious Trinity: in the 2d it must be taken tropically, the word not signi­fying in the natural and proper sense thereof, but yet not without example, Rom. 8.2. 2 Cor. 3.6. Gal. 4.29. in the 3d sense it must signi­fy metonymically, the effect of the Spirit be­ing called by the name of him that works that blessed effect in the Souls of Gods Chil­dren.

In the first and second of these senses, the Testimony of the Spirit is communicated to [Page 59]all true Christians; but in the third I know lyes the ground of your exception: but be­cause I shall have occasion to speak somewhat afterward directly to this point, be pleased for the present to remember, that I have told you, that this inclination to obedience, the duct of the Gospel is not alike efficacious up­on all the children of God, this Spirit being not given in the same measure to all the Sons of God.

As to the third branch of your Objection, (rather but one part of it) viz. the want of the Testimony of your own Spirit, that might witness (together with the other) that you are the Childe of God; to give full satisfaction therein, we must inquire into 1. the meaning of the word [Spirit] in this place. 2. What the Testimony thereof is. And of 3. what Au­thority in a business of this Importance the Testimony of a mans own Spirit is.

For the first; the word [Spirit] in this place must signify (I conceive) one of these two things: either first, some noble and sub­lime Essence, presiding in a Christian, either as a Distinct subsistence from that, which is one of the essential constitutive principles of every man; or else as the Celestial and more Sera­phical part of the Soul, informing, ordering, and governing the rational faculties in all Spiritual and Divine things. And in this sense it must be conceived to have some Re­semblance with the office of the Imaginative [Page 60]faculty; which being seated betwixt the out­ward senses and the Ʋnderstanding, conveyes the Species of all sensible objects to the Intel­lectual facultie, being it self of a middle na­ture, betwixt rational and sensible. To one of these senses (I judge) those Divines referre their opinions, who assert man to consist of 1. Spirit, 2. Soul, and 3. Bodie: unless by [Soul] in this tripartite division, they under­stand an Essence capable of no other offices in Man, but the performance of sensitive and vegitative operations. Or 2ly the word [Spi­rit] in this place may signify (and me thinks not at all incongruously) some excellent gift of the Holy Ghost, infused from above in our Baptism, into the Souls of Christians, where­by they are not only made capable of recei­ving divine Revelations, and things above Reason, but likewise inclined, and encoura­in the performance of all those things which God requires at their hands, to render them capable of obtaining the further inestimable degrees of his Love and Favour to Mankinde. And therefore 2ly the Testimony of any mans Spirit, is that Evidence which it gives con­cerning the whole Series of his conversation, in reference to those principles of Faith and Obedience which God hath given him, in his revealed Will, as the Grounds and Rules of his Practice. The 3d Authentickness of which Testimony doth manifest it self to every man, partly by the known truth of the things at­tested, [Page 61]which are not concealed from him, but represented as the things of himself; and partly from that power which God hath over it, not only in rectifying any Errors thereof, but likewise in shewing himself merciful to­ward us, in such things, wherein such a Te­stimony is not for, but against us. This Testi­mony you (say you) want, because you finde not any Witness in your self that you are a Childe of God.

I conceive it is not impossible for your Spi­rit to give this Testimony, though you have deafned your ear to it, and take it for some deception of flesh and blood, or a delusion of Satan, using all the Devices he can, to insnare you in carnal security: but whether it be thus or no, I shall advise you to endeavour to elicite and call up this Testimony by that which is the Test of it: Do you continue in any wilful course of deliberate sin? what know you by your self? are you still guilty of any of those sins which in the judgment of the Apostle render a man uncapable of any inheritance with the Children of God? if you are; then look not for this Testimony till you have repented, and amended your life; nor then neither for it presently, until such time as you have good experience of your Resolutions, how they have held out in the time of tryal and Tem­ptation, and that the greatest and sharpest that in all likelyhood may happen unto you. But if you are not thus guilty (as for my [Page 62]part I believe you a re not) of any mortal sin reigning in your bodie; go to the Rule with this argument in your mouth: The Ho­ly Spirit of God saith, Whosoever is born of God doth not sin [willfully and deliberately] Joh. 3.9. But upon a strict survey of my self, I finde that I do not commit any such sin. Therefore I am borne of God.

Upon the Truth of the middle Proposition depends the validity of this Testimony of your Spirit; for the major is infallible, and the Conclusion is undoubtedly true, upon suppo­sition that there be no such sin, either of o­mission or commission, in your conversation, which may exclude you from your Sonship: But yet for as much as the Apostle doth tell us, that though he knew nothing by himself, yet was he not thereby justified; we ought in reason to lay no more weight on this disquisition and search of our selves, then it will bear: for our Knowledge being imperfect, this search and inquiry into our own wayes cannot be absolutely perfect: and consequently we sub­ject to errors therein: yet is it most certain, that if we do it in sincerity of heart, with­out partiality to our selves; not only, not allowing in our practise any the smallest sin, but by deeds of Mortification, earnestly, and faithfully endeavouring to subvert the power of it; we have the Faith of the Divine Ma­jestie to rely on, in the Tenor of the Go­spel, not exacting unsinning obedience under [Page 63]pains of eternal death, from those who shall be reputed, and rewarded as the Children of God.

OBJECT. XV.

But if I were a Childe of. God, I cannot but in reason expect a more compliable temper with the Laws of Christ, then I finde in my self: even to those things, from which I actually do abstain, I perceive in my self most violent, and strong inclinations; so that I have no Comfort from the Vi­ctory over my Lusts; such murmurings and regrets I have in my self, for not letting loose the Rains of my corrupt Na­ture.

SOLUTION.

21. MY answer to this Objection will likewise discharge your expe­ctation of what I promised more fully to speak, in reference to that (supposed) exce­ption you would have against your self, from the third sense I suggested unto you, which the Apostle might intend, by the Testimony of the Spirit, in that of the Romans lately men­tioned.

It is not to be denyed by any the Greatest [Page 64]Saint upon earth, but that he feels in him­self the Contests of two contrary Principles, Flesh and Spirit, the old and new man: and evident I presume it is, that from hence arises very much of their trouble who have tender and good natures, but weak and disordered Judgments. For first, many of those Christi­ans do conclude, that all, even the first moti­ons to sin, which they feel in themselves, how suddenly, and impetuously soever rejected by their Spirits, do yet leave some dangerous guilt sticking upon their Consciences. And 2ly that the state of a Christian lyable to such motions against the Law of God, springing from cor­rupt nature in him is wholly deplorable and forlorn; these being most sure marks of his unregeneracy.

Concerning the first of these; though there be many very judicious and pious Divines, that are of a contrary judgment acknow­ledging no more in these motions to sin, then an jnfelicity accompanying the nature of the holyest men in this life; affording indeed matter of humility, to all the Children of God, but not aspersing them with any guilt: yet if your judgment run along with those of the other perswasion, I shall not Endeavor to alter your opinion; it being long since imbi­bed (I believe) and therefore not only diffi­cultly changed, but allmost impossible to be cleerly eradicated out of your mind; and consequently; may be a means not of les­sening, [Page 65]but enlarging your Troubles: yet would I desire you to retein your own Per­swasion, with this grain of Salt, viz. that those Motions are but sins of Infirmity and Venial, which have pardon of course un­der the Gospel to all the Children of God; it not being possible that they can live in the Flesh, without such Motions to sin, unless you will suppose them capable of living in a state of Impeccability, a not-sinnable condition in this World; for that such Motions must in reason be supposed to be in all persons lapsible (as was Adam and all his Sons,) being that indelibe­rate sins, as well as sins of a slower fermentation in mens Souls, must be preceded by such Motions of their Appetites, as naturally and as necessarily, as the collision of Flints must be before the emission of fire.

As for the second, such Motions as these how vile and irregular soever they are, (Blas­phemies having the same mint with Fornication, Adulteries, Murders, as our Saviour telleth us, Mat. 15.19.) yet being (as we have said) immediately, and with Indignation rejected by us, are no marks of an unregenerate Man, but rather the contrary: For do not we Christi­ans engage in a warfaring life against the Flesh, the World, and the Devil? is not the Holy man, he that leads a vertuous and religi­life, a Conqueror? and is there a Conqueror where there is no Enemy; have we weapons, spiritual ones, put into our hands, to beat the [Page 66]Air withall? are not these Motions the enmity of the Flesh, which we are engaged to oppose and destroy, that Amalek, with which we must have war for ever? I mean whilst we live in this World. And must it pass for a Cha­racter of Treason or Cowardice, (and not ra­ther a note of Infelicity) to be dayly sur­rounded with multitudes of these Philistims, which yet (like David) a valiant Christian destroys by ten thousands at a time? if this be that Shibboleth, and Test of discerning and di­stinguishing the good from the bad, Heaven will be filled with none but Angels, and those innocent Creatures, whose good hap it was to dye whilst their ignorance of Good and E­vil (like the Children of the Ninivites) might give them undeniable pretensions to the crown of Glory.

Should you therefore condemn your self, for that such Duels and Battles as these are dayly fought in your Breast, for that Plots and Conspiracies against the Kingly Govern­ment of your Appetites, are dayly detected and prevented; the Plotters and Conspirators subdued, chastised, and kept under by an high hand; should you, I say, condemn your self for this, you would in that sentence condemn the Generation of Gods Children; the main dif­ference betwixt spiritual and carnal Men and Women lying in this, (not that one sort feels no contest with Motions to sin, the other have Souls dayly clouded and pestred with [Page 67]such Locusts) Gal. 5.16. but one of them, viz. spiritual Men do conquer and subdue, but car­nal Men and Women do yield to, and are van­quish'd by these Lusts.

Honour and commendation are not only due to Fortitude, but do foment and cherish that Virtue: take you heed therefore that that be not applyable to you, which the va­liant and wise General of King Davids Army foretold him upon his sour entertainment of his Souldiers, after their Victory over Abso­lom (the Kings Darling as much as Enemy,) 2 Sam. 19.7. You ought to encourage your self in God, and bless and praise him by whose Grace it is that you are thus victorious, and that for the praise of his Glory, as the A­postle doth more than once intimate in Eph. 1.12, 14.

OBJECTION. XVI.

But how then is my Nature changed, where is that new Creature, created after God in Righteousness and true Holiness? What Renovation by the Spirit, if such Motions to Sin as these, croud in upon the Soul of a re­generate Christian? I cannot but be perswa­ded it was much otherwise with the Apostle, and is so still with Holy men, though not with me.

SOLUTION.

22. THe Anatomy of every, or any single Christians Soul, with the true state and posture of his Mind you cannot certainly know, unless the person may be presumed, not only to speak truth, but throughly to un­derstand his own condition in this point, e­ven as St. Paul did. But certain enough it is, that Holy men extraordinarily inspired by God, have grievously complained of the guilt of Sin, and of their exceeding great troubles for it, even to distraction, Ps. 88.15. neither of which could possibly happen unto them, (the later being the fruit and effect of the former) with these precedaneous motions to fin.

Besides, let the Thoughts, Words, and Deeds of the holyest person which you would instance in, be sifted to the bottom, and some bran will be found in them, some chaff will be winowed out of the heap of his conversation; even since that time, that he hath had some comfortable assurance of his good Estate: but all this is not only tryable by experience, but by Rules and Grounds of Divinity, which have proportion with the Analagy of Faith.

23. The new Creature, or the Regenerate man who doth sincerely endeavour to perfect Holyness in the fear of God, doth not pass into [Page 96]this estate, by any physical and natural, but by a spiritual and moral change; the principles of Motion and Operation in him, continuing not only the same, but still lyable to the same Errors in working as before; otherwise (as we have already said) his state must be a state of Impeccability, which was never in our earthly Tabernacle but once, when Christ Je­sus took our nature upon him: in whom, though the humane nature was lapsible, be­cause otherwise he had not been made in all things like unto us, Sin only excepted, Heb. 2.17. (which lapsability is not,) yet by reason of the hypostalical union of the Humane and Divine nature in his Person; he could not only not fall but feel no Motion to the least sin, neither was Guile found in his mouth.

So then, by reason the faculties in the Soul remain the same, after, as before conversion, (as that man doth will Vertue with the same Individual will, wherewith before he did will Vice: he doth love God with the same natu­ral power of affecting, wherewith before he lo­ved the World.) It must follow, that the Soul and her Appetites, as well concupiscible as irascible, being still physically the same; the change is only in these 3 things especially, the 1. cause, 2. manner, and 3. end of their operation. The Moral cause, (if I may so term it) by the efficiency whereof the Will and her Appetites are in a Regenerate man moved to act, upon the proposal of any object, is that Tincture [Page 70]of Grace, which is cast into the Soul by the blessed Spirit of God: which is a kind of Principium motus & quietis in Moral, as Nature is in things Natural, mingling it self into e­very faculty of the Soul, apprehending in the Intellectual, willing or nilling in the Elective power, governing and guiding the Affections in all their Operations, both of aversation and desire, being so perfectly assimilated to the nature of the Soul, that (as is the Soul in which it dwells) Grace is better appre­hended by her operation in Regenerate men, than defined in its essence: something there is that moves them to Act, not only so contra­ry to others, but even to themselves whilst un­regenerate, Rom. 6.21. (as the contrary effects of Glory and Shame in the same Persons, flow­ing from the same Acts, though under a dif­ferent state doth evidence) but to define what this is, whether a substance or a quality, whe­ther an Act, or any Assistant form, may (pos­sibly) appear a difficulty so much the greater, by how much the more solidly it is inquired into.

As for the manner of a Regenerate mans working by Grace, it is regular, according to that order which God himself hath fixt in our Nature, Reason being the Judge of all our Actions, uncorrupted by any prepossession, passion, or interest, which are the causes of all disorderly Actions of the Soul, invading by force or stratagemme, the more noble and [Page 71] rational faculties, whereby Unregenerate men are carried (vertiginously) about with divers Lusts, as well as with every wind of Doctrine, Eph. 4.14. which is a lust in the Understand­ing, and so the more dangerous, as are Disea­ses that fix themselves in the vital parts, and in circular motion, we know that each part of the Orbe hath a vicissitude of Superi­ority: but in the Soul of man Reason ought to be fixt in the highest seat, the deepest myste­ries of Faith no way deposing this Queen Re­gent from her Dignity, but only exacting from her that Homage and Fealty which is due to Divine Revelations, and the Assistances of the Spirit acting herein spiritual and heaven­ly things.

And lastly, for the change that is wrought in the end of a Regenerate mans Actions, that which he now ultimately and chiefly aims at, is the manifestation of Gods Glory: and the subordinate end of all his Endeavours, is his own, and the salvation of other mens Souls: but with men of unchang'd Natures, as Na­ture in a state of Corruption is the Principle from which they work, and their Manner wholy enormous; so is their end ever their self, even in that worser sense, wherein an obedience; and captivity to all, or some kinds of carnal Lusts, for satisfaction of the un­reasonable and brutish part in them is signifi­ed, in opposition to that manual of Gospel-Duties, (as I may call it) abridged into [Page 72]that most comprehensive Notion of Self-de­nyal.

Briefly then, if you will but observe the Principal efficient of your moral Actions, the manner and end of doing them, I trust you will be able to see so great a contrariety be­twixt those of the Unregerate, and Regene­rate life, that you will without any just cause of doubt as freely assert the spiritual Life you lead, from the vigour and energy of that New Nature in you; as you do the Natural life you live, by the power of the Old Nature, in a physical sense.

OBJECTION. XVII.

But me thinketh [say you] I may and ought to be a much better Christian than I am.

SOLUTION.

24. NO moral duty (like Mathemati­cal proportions) doth consist in an indivisible point. That which we judge to be the worst may yet be worser, and that which we take to be the best may yet be better, if done by any Creature not impeccable. Es­chue Evil, and do Good is the rule of holy living, Ps. 34.13. which he that sincerely doth, need­eth not be scrupulous and critically inquisitive into every single Action of his Life, though he may not be remiss and supine in do­ing [Page 73]any the most inconsiderable, whilst it is in doing.

25. There is no Divine, that will assert the ne­cessity of perfect and unsinning obedience un­der the Gospel: his own experience without the Authority of Saint John, will confute such Magisterial Theologie, e're it run from a pen, held by a hand of flesh and blood. All humane Actions must needs carrie a proporti­on to the nature of the Agent by which they are effected: in all moral Actions, the inter­mediate Agent betwixt the Spirit of sanctifica­tion, and the material part of the Action is the Soul of Man, in which, and by which, as by a natural and voluntary Instrument, the blessed Spirit doth work: so that all moral productions must needs receive some impressions from the next, and immediate cause of their being: an Artificer never so skilfull, yet the defects and ineptitude of the Instrument by which he works, may somewhat abate of the excellen­cy of the work, unless he can suppose the Soul of Man in all her faculties to be not only regular, but inerrable; that transpiercing Eye will sind some flaw in the most orient moral Action, which a state of Separation and Bliss might have rendered that Action free from; our very Prayers and Prayses are (undoubt­edly) not so perfect in this, as in the other life: and this is one reason, why till the day of Judgement Christ doth not deliver up the Kingdom to the Father: his Melcheside­kian [Page 74]Priesthood continuing in (my opinion) till that time, both for the Quick and Dead, that they may have their Perfect Consumma­tion and bliss in everlasting glory: this the Church prayes for, and for what the Body prayes, the Head doth undoubtedly inter­cede.

OBJECT. XVIII.

But me thinketh (say you) I may do more good then I do.

SOLUTION.

26. COncerning the measure of well­doing, if it were in Moral positive precepts of Gods revealed Will, there needs nothing more be said, but that of our Sa­viour, These ought to be done, Matth. 23.23. But because such doubts or Scruples, that afflict your minde, are most likely to arise from those duties, which are prescribed only in gross; but the Quotum or measure left to our own prudence to determine, as Fasting, Prayer, Alms, &c. I shall onely insist upon these, there being no tollerable doubt or scruple to be made concerning the other, which oblige ad semper, at all times, and in their full measure.

But you must take notice, that it is not [Page 75]possible that part cular Rules and Directions can be given to all Christians, concerning these Duties, whereby all objections may be prevented: some what may be said in gene­ral, which may serve so far to direct you, and all good Christians, concerning these duties, that by observing them you may be left secure from all damnable omissions of any of these duties, and from any dangerous er­rors in performing them. Fasting is a duty when enjoyned by publike lawful Authori­ty, and for Christian ends, and to be per­formed in a charitable manner, is an indi­spensable duty upon all, save such, with whom that Authority doth actually dispense, or may duly be supposed to be dispensable by such an Authority. But for private Fasts, how frequently they are to be observed by every one, cannot be defined without some regard had to our constitution of Bodie, our calling, the usual Contingencies of necessary af­fairs, &c. which may hinder the performance, or make it impertinent to our end. Publick Fasts are less lyable to errors in the perfor­mance, than private are: one reason amongst others is, because the management of every one for that time, is for the greatest part left under publick circumstances of Time, Persons, Place, &c. which render the Duty more free from error and scruple in the Performance: Private asts are seldom free from private faults and inconveniencies. Now because the [Page 76]circumstances of Complexion, Age, Sex, Contingencies, &c. are so variable; my judg­ment is, that few Christians oblige them­selves by Vow, (but under a pecuniary mulct to the poor they may) to the observation of weekly, voluntary fasts, making those the choicest opportunities, when they are most fit for those duties. The best conjuncture is Prayer, Fasting and Alms together, (or in those who have no corporal Alms, some spiri­tual Largess to the Souls of others, which all may give) these set a price upon the Service of God, and keep our Religion from being cheap and refuse, and such as costs us nothing, but the expence of a little time and breath.

But by this I desire not to be thought to discharge the weekly dayes of abstinence ap­pointed by the Church, or to commute for them, by the observation of a day of your own; for I look upon the Authority of the Church you were baptized in, as uncancell'd in point of obliging you, and all others, who call your selves the Sons and Daughters of the Church of England.

These Cautions I shall recommend unto you, and others, in reference to the matter in hand. 1. The duties of our honest and necessary calling, (wherein men do undoubt­edly serve God, when orderly and Christi­anly performed) may, though not wholly supersede, either out of our family, or pri­vate practise, any of these duties, yet mo­derate [Page 77]us in the practice of them. So much time spent in prayer, cannot in reason be ex­pected, from one that subsists by his honest Call­ing, as from him that lives of a plentiful Reve­nue. 2. Diversions and recreations ought not to govern us in of respect these duties: but if they be such as require much of our time to the exercise of them (which I believe is not agree­able to Christian principles) the seasons must not be rob'd away from these duties, but from something else, wherein we have a power to dispense. I do not believe that an Hunting-Match, a Cittie-Visit, or a Pack of Cards, &c. ought to exchange and alter the fittest, and usual times, and hours for prayer, (though necessary employments, deeds of Mercy and Charity may) much less abbreviate or wholly dispense with the duty. 3. If it hap­pen that there be an opportunity of doing some dutie of Piety, (as publick Prayer or Sermon, &c.) in that place where you are enjoyn'd to be an Auditor & Member of the Congregation on the Lords day (or in any other place where you are, in case there be no Schism in the National Church) you may not absent your self only for such Diversions and Recreations; the reason is, not only for that a guilt of omission, and also a scandal will follow from thence, but you may lose an opportunity of doing, or receiving some good at that time, which you may not have tendred to you again. To lavish away ones [Page 78]time is a very great imprudence (besides a sin) in any Christian; but to lose seasons and opportunities is a very great piece of guilt, as well as folly. 4. In case you have bound your self to any of these, in respect of the measure and frequency, either by Vow, or promise, or firm Resolution (especially if by way of Revenge for former faults, 2 Cor. 7. 11.) by all means, be as projectual as you may in the observation there of: assuring your self, that as you shall meet with the more and greater oppositions after such Vow, Promise or Resolution, so you will finde much more trouble upon the not performance of the duty so vowed, promi­sed, or resolved on; because the duty there­by becomes in its circumstances to the hic and nunc of it, of the nature of Gods un­changeable precepts, and the sin of unfaith­fulness is added to the omission of that duty by you. 5. You need not scruple the Condi­tion or perswasion of the Person to whom you give in bestowing of your Alms; if you per­ceive the Receiver thereof be such, as by ho­nest endeavours cannot provide for himself, and his Family in a way proportionable to the Dignity of mans Nature, you have a good aim to hit the mark of Charity; if nothing be probably suggested to the contrary, you may safely suppose any one that asketh, capable of your charitable Benevolence. 6. in giving ever have regard to that your Eye informs [Page 79]you, the poor Wretch stands most in need of, and which others are not so likely, or so well able to supply, as your self. I need not mention to you any caution against vain glo­ry, the forfeiture of your Reward in Heaven, upon our Saviours own caution against it, will be your daily Remembrancer thereof. 7. To constant Prayers and other holie Duties in your Familie, though there be no Positive command in Scripture for it, I believe you hold your self obliged. Yet would I not have you so wedded to any form, as not being able to please your self therein, you should whol­ly discharge the Dutie it self, that which best opens your Wants as a Christian, and co­meth home to the concernments of your own Family, is the most proper, and in all like­lyhood may best suit with the temper and perswasion of everie Person in your House; which in this Age we live in, may not be so unanimous, as you desire. 8. In the perfor­mance of any of these (as of all other Du­ties) labour to shew your self of an alacrious Spirit. For being they are Free will Offer­ings, (at least manie Acts of them may be so) it is true in all the rest, which the Apostle speaks of one of them, God loveth a chearfull Giver. 2 Cor. 9.7. 9. I shall conclude with this caution (which I desire you to make use of as a cordial, and not as a conserve to make other things glib and palatable in swallowing) remember that there is great difference be­twixt [Page 80]the certain punishment annext to the breach of Law, and a lesser degree of Glory in the life to come, he that soweth plentifully, shall reap plentifully; 2 Cor. 9.6, 7. though where there is no sowing at all, no Harvest (in Justice) can be expected, yet where there is this spiritual sowing the crop shall be answerable to what is sown. Though it should be every mans designe, to aim at the highest degree of Glory, and yet believe that he deserves not the least: yet I would have such as are of your sad temper to consider; that there is no dan­ger incurred, by being only capable of re­ceiving a less reward then other men.

OBJECTION XIX.

But I think my self bound in Conscience to do the most and best I may, and therefore I con­demn my self of sin, as ost as I fail of doing that which is best.

SOLUTION.

27. YOur condition may be such, as that you may be utterly uncapa­ble of doing that which is best; and conse­quently you ought not in reason to think your self bound to all that is best. A single life is best, in comparison of Wedlock, (sup­posing [Page 81]the Person qualified for Coelibate:) yet if you are entred into the state of Marriage, (though you found your self capable of li­ving without Lust of burning) yet you must now content your self with that state of life, and therein abide with God, 1 Cor. 7.24. do­ing the Duties agreeable, and proper to that kinde of life. But you mean (perhaps) of such things as are yet in your choice; as to Pray in Canonical hours, as do the Regulars or Religious of the Roman Perswasion; or to give so much Alms, as may quadrupliate the proportion you have hitherto given, being able so to do. I confess I do not take it to be a fault, but a piece of Heroical Charity, if any one doth by this means, so lessen him­self, in respect of his former quality, that the Place and Dignity he formerly enjoyed as his Civil Right, (provided he be no publick Magistrate, which (perhaps) may alter the Case) the Port and Equipage of his living is thereby deprest, and made inglorious in the eyes of worldly men. But as I take this to be no fault, but much otherwise; so I must take leave to scruple your scruple you raise from your private belief in this point; viz. that you are obliged thus do; because your Conscience tells you, you are capable of do­ing it. Your Argument stands thus; Such an Heroical piece of Religion I am capable of per­forming, therefore my Conscience tells me I am bound to perform it.

Two things must here be enquired into. 1. Whether my capacity of doing that which I am not apparantly commanded to do, be a suf­ficient ground to inferre my obligation thereto? in case this be not so, whether 2. my belief that it is so, hath a power of obliging me thereto? as in matters of Indifferency.

That the first Proposition cannot be held for an universal Affirmative, may be clear to any one, from these two Instances. 1. There be divers persons in the world, that are ca­pable of performing the Ministerial Function, in point of Parts and Moral Behaviour; which yet never did conceive themselves, nor any body else believe, that they were indispensa­bly bound, by this aptitude of theirs to enter into Holy Orders. I must confess that in the first Plantation of the Gospel, or in an intol­erable scarcity of Ministers, the case may (possibly) be otherwise; especially if such persons perceive in themselves an unusual ac­quisition, and improvement of their abilities, under common means; and a greater violence and stirring of Spirit in them toward that Profession, (especially if under persecution, or very slender encouragements to imbrace it) together with the remarkable desires of others, that they would engage therein, (the Concurrence of which are very neer to an ex­traordinary Calling.) But generally I conceive the case to be as is afore determined. Again 2ly tis clear from 1 Cor. 7. That a single Life [Page 83]is better, in many respects, then Marriage: now if a Virgin living in her Fathers house, should finde in her self no necessity to marry, but rather strong inclinations (and for the best reason of all, that she might serve the Lord without distraction by worldly business) to continue a Virgin, supposing she were actually obliged so to do, upon finding in her self this capacity of living unmarried; I desire to know, whether her Father (if he sees it ne­cessary for himself, estate or Family that she should marrie) may compell by his Fatherly Authority, such a one to accept of a fit Hus­band, tendered to her by her Father? on the one side here is the Command of a Fa­ther; on the other (on that supposition) the Command of God; this to abstain, that to marrie; into what a sad perplexitie will such a one be cast, if that supposition were true?

But I desire him that holds the first opini­on [that his capacity of doing that which he is not apparantly commanded to do, is a sufficient ground to inferre his obligation thereto] to con­sider this reason to the contrary: the capaci­tie of doing any thing, whether precedaneous, concomitant or subsequent to the command, is no more then a Qualification, or obediential power and passivity in the object, by which the Law becomes suitable to the Creature, to whom it is given, and without which the Command can neither be reasonable, nor just [Page 84]it being as disagreable to original justice, that a Law or Command be given to any Crea­ture Superiour to his abilities of keeping it; as it is contrary to ordinate justice to punish that Creature, for the not performance of a Command so given. Not the Obligency there­fore, but the equity, or reasonableness of the Law, is founded in the Capacity of the Crea­ture to obey it (that being indeed founded in the Soveraignty of the Law-maker) other­wise there would be transgression, where there is no Law, contrary to the saying of St. Paul, Rom. 4.15.

The main doubt behinde is, whether a be­lief grounded upon such an aptitude, doth oblige that person in whom it is, to the performance of such things, for which there is no particular precept given him by God? and so may be understood to be of the same nature with that, which Di­vines call a Personal precept, as was that of our Saviour to the young man, requiring him to sell all, and give to the Poor, Luke 18.22. a Precept which Divines have hitherto held to be of the nature of those Constitutions in the Civil Law, called Constitutiones personales, Inst. lib. 1. Tit. 2. n. 6. none of which trans­greditur personam, goes further than the per­son to which it is given, and therefore be­become not Presidents or Examples for o­thers, though they have Legis vigorem the force of Law, in respect of them to whom they are given.

Therefore I answer, That a Person that thus believes, is bound by his erroneous Con­science, or Judgement to the thing which he conceives himself thus capable of doing, but yet not irreversibly bound, as that man that receives a personal Precept from the Law­giver is, till the Law-giver himself be pleased to reverse it. He then that is thus bound by the error of his Judgement, in the first of those things controverted betwixt us, under this objection, is freed from all Obligation to performance, as soon as his Judgement (or Conscience) is rectified; which is done as­soon as he is perswaded of the truth of this proposition, viz. That the capacity of doing what is best, doth not render the Person capable obliged to do what is best. Wherein (I think) the reason foregoing will give satisfaction to any unprejudicate Person.

OBJECTION. XX.

But doth not our Saviour discharge the force of your reason in Mat. 19.12. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it; —But I am able to receive it,—therefore I am bound to receive it.

SOLUTION.

26. YOu must prove, that our Saviour injoyns that as a Precept, and not proposeth it as his Advice or Counsell; otherwise it cannot be thought to contain in it the force of a Command; and conse­quently hath not in it the obligatory of a Law, but the perswasory efficacie of an Ad­vice.

Now that those words do not contain the force of a Precept in them, will (I believe) be evident, if you consider the passage to which they are immediately related; and that is the saying of the Disciples v. 10. conclu­ding Mariage to be (in point of Prudence) much worse than a single life, in case there ought to be no divorce of Man and Wife, save for Adultery only. It is not (say they) good to marry, if the case be thus; which clearly im­plies thus much, that it is best in point of prudence, (this being in every mans choyce) not to marry; to which our Saviours Answer is to this purpose, that they are in the right, if it were alike with all men in respect of ab­staining from Marriage; but being it is not so, they that cannot contein ought to marrie, but if a Man can contein, their Judgement is good, and is confirmed with our Saviours own Resolution therein, it is best for him not to marry. I believe Saint Baul will give full sa­tisfaction [Page 87]to this scruple, if you read his 7th. chapter, 1 Cor.

OBJECTION XXI.

But is not every Christian bound in Consci­ence to use the things that God gives him, to the best advantage of his Master?

SOLUTION.

27. BE is bound so to do in point of pru­dence: but not by any express Law given by God. Now the Obligation which prudence layes upon anie man, is not in respect of such things as are Good or Evil; for therein there is no libertie of Election, that which is Evil being by no means eligible: but onlie concerning such things as may be well or better done, either way of doing them being choosable without guilt, because there intervenes no Law, which may deter­mine my will, but I am left to govern my self by prudential reasons only, which amount to no more, but the modification of my Act of choosing, whereby it is resolved to be more or less prudent, not to be lawfull or unlaw­full.

Now if I choose that which is least to my own advantage, I do no more then what [Page 88]may be done, where the election of my will is not predetermined: and if that be least for the profit of my Master, yet he having given me no other Command, than to use those things well which he hath given me, I have obeyed his Commands who enjoined me to do so much.

If a Merchant should deliver a large stock of Goods or Monie to his Factour, and should say unto him, imploy this to my best advantage, in all instances and at every op­portunitie your prudence shall judge to be fit: in this case the Factor is preobliged, and must do onlie what is best, else he breaks the Com­mand of his Master. But if his Master say thus unto him, imploy this stock to my ad­vantage, and your reward for so doing shall be proportionable to the advantages I receive by your Endeavours: in this case the Factor is not obliged by his Masters Command, to do anic more than imploy his Masters goods to his profit; which if he do, be it much or little, he obeys the Command of his Ma­ster; but prudence binds him to do the best he can, for the advancing and improving his Masters Goods, because his own Reward will carry its proportion to that success, whe­ther it be for the better or no, the case cor­responds to the latter part of this illustra­tion.

OBJECTION XXII.

But how can this stand with mine, (and the ob­ligation of all Christians) to love the Lord, with all my Soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength.

SOLUTION.

28. I Do not conceive this Paramount Law inevitably infringed, by not doing every thing that we have ability of do­ing, but are not thereto expresly required by precept. Indeed it binds the whole man to all Duties, exacted from him by Gods reveal­ed will, and to submit to, or not withdraw my obedience therefrom, for any Competitor whatever, that may pretend claim to my sub­jection, because for that time, & in that thing, (if I were never so good a Christian) my Disobedience of Gods Law, would unquesti­onablie condemn me of not loving Him, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength; the demonstration of which Love (as our Saviour himself resolves) is the keeping of Gods Commandements, Jo. 14.15. if you mark it, the keeping his Commandements is the Test of every mans love, so that he that doth that; that observes what ever doth ap­pear [Page 90]to be Gods Commandement, is said truly to love God, and that with al his Heart. So that consequently there is left unto men a Lati­tude of expressing their Love to God, in some Acts of Heroical Vertue, proportio­nable to the free-will offerings amongst the Jews; whereby God may have occasion gi­ven him, of remunerating such men ac­cording to his Bounty; like as the Du­ties performed agreeable to his Law, are rewardable by his Iustice. You may take this Resolution of your scruple in this for­mal way of reasoning. The Love that Christ requires from his Disciples is the Love of Him with all their Heart, with all their Mind, &c. But such a Love as this is exprest by keep­ing his Commandement. Ergo, The keeping of Gods Commandments is such a Love as God requires from his Children.

We may adde hereto, that when a man doth sincerely propose the glory of God, as the scope and center of all his Actions, every single Act of his Life, whether civil or religi­ous, may be interpreted as a line tending thereto; drawn from the Circle of his first Resolution, and cannot be truely said to be a breach of Duty, for that it tends less to perfection than doth every other Action of his Life; gradual Differences in moral Acti­ons, (as good, better, and best) making no essential difference in the Subjects in which they are: whereas the objects of Reward and [Page 91]Punishment, must be opposed by contrariety as are Vertue and Ʋice, which diversity of Degrees in the same subject are not, as well in moral, as in natural Things.

So that without forfercing your Reason you may believe, that you do not love the Divine Majestic with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength, because you do not every thing, which some eminent Christians have done before you, as giving all to the poor; &c. such high Attempts require long sitting down, and considering with your self, e're you ing age in them; lest not only that happen unto you, which befel the man in the Gospel, who beginning a building too great for his Purse, Luke 14.30. and desisting, was deri­ded therefore by his Enemies, but a much worse thing, I mean the irremoveable anxiety of future life, with all the vexatious scruples that Satan, or a volatile fancy may cast upon your Soul.

OBJECTI. XXIII.

But I need not contest so hotly about the measure of holy and vertuous Actions. The Apostle tells me, that without Charity all is nothing worth: I cannot deny, but that I do heartily endeavour to do all the good that I may, to any one who stands in need thereof; but I have no assurance that I do it in Charity, [Page 92]and so all my Hay, Wood, and Stubble may perish, when it comes to the Test.

SOLUTION.

29. IT is no small difficultie to define what that Charitie is, which you suspect you want. You accuse not your self of the neglect of any good Dutie, that concerns the bodies or souls of men, and that as your Brethren and Partners with you in the common benefit of Redemption. You sincerely endeavour to practise forbearance, are patient and not revengefull of Injuries; kind, tender and compassionate; as sensible and zealous of other mens good as of your own,; far from envying; well-pleased at other mens happi­nesses; hating all foolish elation of mind; as al­so all pride and insolence, in over-valuing your self and despising others; you keep your self from using others unseemlie; either in Words or Ge­sture; inclinable to take care of others Good and Safetie, and not only of your own; you fall not upon any provocation, into violent and immo­derate distempers of Anger; keep account of all the Good that hath been done by any, but none of the Evil; you rejoyce not at the Errors and Sins of other men, but are passionately grieved for them, and contrarily made glad, by the good and holy conversation of your fellow Christians; inclinable to conceal all the Evil that you know of another, so far as is for his Good, and not con­trary to the greater Good of others; you blelieve [Page 93]without prejudice all the Good you hear of others? or have Ground in Charity to believe of them? you hope that you believe not, and never so far despair of their Repentance, as to give over using all probable means which may reclaim your wan­dring Brethren; enduring much pain, trouble and loss, without Regret, for the recovering of such as are indangered by any unchristian practises. Now that this is that Charitie the Apostle so magnifies, you have not only the evi­dence of the thing it self, but the credit of a most learned, pious, and judicious Paraphrast on that Chapter; whose very words I have transcribed (at least the full importance of them) for your satisfaction in this scruple: presuming that the authoritie of so reverend a Person, will fix your judgement beyond the assaults of anie ordinarie Temptations.

I cannot therefore be so uncharitable to you as to joyn with you in a Verdict against your self, for want of Charitie. I doubt not, but you have in your heart this Water springing up to eternal life; though like Hagar almost dead by thirst, you want an Angel to shew you this Fountain, Gen. 21. When such fumes as these darken your Soul, do not seek for light from sparks of your own kindling; but from the Sun of Righteousness; that Light that light­neth everie one that cometh into the world. Jo. 1.9.

In a word therefore, you must know, that when the Apostle thus magnifies Charity, it is [Page 94]the same thing as to comprize and exalt the whole dutio of man toward our Neighbour, in that one word; and to prefer that before the guifts of edification, whether Tongues, Heal­ing, Miracles, &c. the excellencie and reputa­tion whereof, or of any heroical Action, as giving ones Goods to the Poor, or ones Bodie to suffer Martyrdome, is not comparable to that practical Vertue, in the full latitude thereof. And this cannot but be evident unto you, if you consider the comparison the Apostle makes betwixt Charitie and such Gifts, in the 12, & 13 Chap.

OBJECTION XXIV.

But in all my Actions I endeavour to skrien my self from the wrath of God, and to prevent his Justice upon my person for Sin already committed, perfectly indeed abhorring it as the cause of all my Troubles, but not truly enamoured of Vertue (me thinks) because it yields me no such. Harvest of Content, and felicity as the Heathens themselves could boast of.

SOLUTION.

30. THat your self should be your end, aswell as God, is not contrary to Piety; but your self must be put in a second and subordinate place, and God in the first and chiefest: because God, being the chiefest good, and our Salvation subordinate to his Glory, as he is in this the prime mover of our Wills, (both objectively, and efficiently) so consequently must he be the ultimate end of our Actions.

But in this case we must distinguish betwixt what God is, and what we apprehend him to be: a Sinner is not presently brought to lay aside the fear of Gods revengefull hand, and to imbrace, and depend upon him, for the mercie that is offered to him. Ordinarily (I conceive God doth manifest his love, good­ness, and mercy to penitent Sinners, gradu­ally; and with proportion to future experi­ence, of the truth and sincerity of their Re­pentance. I mean such a manifestation of himself, in these Attributes of complacency and benignity to Mankind; which one may term the overshadowing of the Spirit of Love upon the Soul, inlightning, refreshing, and comforting her, against the terrors of the Di­vine Justice due to Sin without a Propitiation by Christ.

Let me therefore advise you, to wait with [Page 96]patience till the day break, and the shadows flee away; Cant. 1.17. till this Sun of Righteous­ness arise upon your Soul with healing in his wings, Mal. 4.2. and to endeavour to be per­swaded (as of other mens so) of your own filiation, and that you may the better be­lieve it, to bless God most frequently for the inestimable gift of his Son Jesus Christ, by whom alone a Reconciliation was wrought betwixt. God and mankind; by the Faith whereof holy Men and Women look for the inheritance of Sons and Daughters, and do not stand in fear of stripes as vassals, and Bond-slaves: being emancipated from the Spirit of Bondage, through the freedom they have by the Spirit of Adoption, whereby they cry Abba Father: Rom. 8 15. meditating upon the greatness, and excellency of that love, the ever-blessed and glorious Trinitie, hath exprest unto our Souls, engraven before our eyes in eternal Characters of Blood; even the Blood of the only Son of God largely descri­bed by all four Evangelists in their Histo­ries of the Gospel; though sundry, yea innu­merable other passages of our Saviours life are omitted S. Jo. 21 (yea even the birth of Christ by two of them) intimating unto us, not only the certain truth of his Passion (which had been unquestionable if but recorded by one of them) and the great concernment of it to all mankinde, as well in the example as necessity thereof; but likewise recommend­ing [Page 97]by that variety of describing the last tragical Act of his Blessed Life, the frequent perusal of it in all times, and kindes of Trial, and Temptations.

What therefore you want of felicity (at present) and content in your New life, do not despair of, but expect; assuring your self, that you shall one day know, and feel, that the Kingdom of God is Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Ghost, Rom. 14.17. God alone knowes how much of Heaven 'tis best to give you in this Life: that Angelical state which you aim at, might be much more dangerous for you then you imagine. When St. Paul had been rapt up into the third Hea­ven, and heard things impossible to be uttered, because he should not be elated by the abun­dance of Revelations, there was given unto him a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, 2 Cor. 12.7. some humiliating Temptation, that might make him know, that as yet he was lock't up in an earthly Tabernacle, as lyable to the Assaults and Invasions of Satan, and his Complices, as to a final dissolution by death.

OBJECT. XXV.

But still, me thinketh, if God had such a Love to my Soul, he should vouchsafe me some ma­nifestations [Page 98]thereof. St. Paul rejoyced in his Infirmities, desiring to be dissolved, and to be with Christ: but nothing is so terri­ble to me as Death; as if I had either no Christ to go unto, or no such Christ as Saint Paul had.

SOLUTION.

31. THe Consideration of the World to come, and expectation of the Re­velation of the Righteous Judgement of God, dispensed by Jesus Christ, according to the things that men have done in their bodies, whether it be good or evil, (2 Cor. 5.10.11.) is questionless a very terrible thing, even to such Christians, as shall never have their share in the Lake that burneth with fire and brimstone for evermore. But is it not the same Word of God which promiseth a Pardon to the Penitent, and threatneth damnation to the impenitent Sinner? Why do you not believe him when he promiseth Mercy, as well as when he threatneth Vengeance? He that believes not the Divine Majesty in any one branch of Faith, revealed plainly in his Word, doth not believe him in the rest; because the ground of Faith, viz. the Veracity of God is the same in all: the same Truth in Promises of Mercy, as in Threatnings of Punishment; the same Fidelity in perform­ance [Page 99]of Good things, as in the Execution of Evil.

As for your instance in St. Paul; (I think) I have already intimated unto you, that he be­ing a Saint of most eminent and exemplary piety, of a Charity and Love to Christ and his Church even unto Extasie and Frenzy in the eyes of the World; you ought not to expect the extraordinary favours vouchsaf't him by Heaven. A lass why should you or I look for so much of Heaven to be delivered to us before hand? or else must judge our selves wholly un­concern'd in the distribution of those heaven­ly Mansions? I am confident either of us would be well content, for such an assurance as had St. Paul, to lye mouldring in our graves a million of years, after the rest of our Brethren are crown'd with Glory; yea (perhaps) as long in the Refining Flames of the Romish Purgatory. But I mention not this as the faint Ejaculations of men that live without Hope; but as expressions, suitable to a sad Reflection upon our own Demerits.

Remember therefore, that if God think fit to give you no Assurance, yet he hath vouchsaf't unto you (with the rest of Be­lievers) Promises of Glorification, much fit­ter to be look't after, and relyed upon, then any sensible and experimental Consolation: for what is tendred to us in the Holy Scriptures, is immutable and permanent: but such con­clusions as are drawn only from experimental [Page 100]knowledge of our own obedience, are very transjent and incertain; never (as is the Word of God) infallible and eternal.

As for your Fear of Death; which you are so far from meeting with St. Pauls alacrity of Spirit, that you dare not encounter the thought of it in your breast: the sound of a passing Bell, or the Sight of a Friend strugling with the pains of Death, being (next to your remembrance of your own last end) the for­midablest thing imaginable; no question the moral causes thereof ought to be heeded, and the effects prevented. I say [moral causes] be­cause I presume there is in all creatures (men not excepted) a natural cause of fear of death: which may be as innocent in men, as the af­fections of Joy, Delight, Grief, Anger, &c. and this can no more be alike in all men in the world; then it can be imagined, there should be the same degrees of other Affections, in all constitutions and complexions of men. Death without question is the most formidable of all things in the world; being that strong bridle which the hand of Providence hold­eth in the Jaws of wicked men, who else would (most of them) break out into the greatest excesses of insolency and outragi­ous mischief; this Great King of Terrors over­awing the most daring, and violent Spirits of men in the world. And of this natural cause of fear of death, you cannot but be thought to have you share; for that neither [Page 101]your Sex, nor your Complexion, can be sup­posed to season you against the but ordinary impressions of that Afflictive Passion.

That which I have term'd a moral cause of this fear, I believe you already apprehend to be that (or some remainders of that) Spirit of Bondage, mentioned by S. Paul, Rom. 8.15. which (as it seems by that Apostle) doth in nothing more fully discover it self, then in the bitter apprehensions of death, Heb. 2.15. this cannot be excused (much less incoura­ged in you, or in any other; but will stand in need of much good counsel, and your own most sinnewed endeavours to remove or les­sen it.

But what is it that you fear in death? the pains thereof you cannot in reason fear, be­cause you know not of what, or whether of any disease you may dye: whether you may have pains or no, or sense to feel them, if you have any: though even against these you are not without a Promise (to which I am assured you have as good a claim as any one) viz. that God will make the merciful or Charitable mans bed in his sickness, Psal. 41.3. though when God undertakes to make the sick mans bed, his Soul (indeed) shall lye much easier then his bodie. But that you in­deed fear is after death: that Thunder-clap which set Foelix a trembling, when it sounded from the mouth of St. Paul; I mean, Judg­ment to come, Acts 24.25. which for a good [Page 102]man to fear too much is a signe of Pusillanimi­ite; not to fear at all is no signe of Piety: our God is a Consuming Fire, and in the best of us there is that dross, which dreads the fury of Everlasting Burnings. In a word; a­bove all other Remedies against the fear of death, there is none more powerful, yea so powerful, as the contemplation of the death of Christ, which gave the fatal blow to the Chain of Adamant, wherein all mankinde till then, were held captive; being indeed the death of death, Hos. 13.14. The Representa­tions whereof may be (questionless) very usefulty, as well as innocently beheld by you, or any other Christians; but not under any barren and melancholick fixation of your eye or car on the story of our Saviours Passion: but by a wise selecting out the fruits thereof, and feeding upon them by discreet contem­plation, for the strengthening of our inward man, against such intimidating thoughts of Mortality.

Neither can I advise you to avoid any thing that may stirre up this passion of fear in your heart; but rather the contrary; I mean to be forward in imbracing any season­able opportunity of making these objects of sadness familiar to you. For besides that it is a duty of Religion to weep with them that weep, Rom. 12.15. to visit the sick; Matth. 25.36. to attend at the burial of our (not friends only, but) brethren, Tob. 2.2. yea to burie [Page 103]them with our own hands, or to do any pre­paratory office about their Corpses, if need be: you will finde thereby this double ad­vantage, viz. that you will most earnestly fly sin, (the cause and sting of death) and in short time gain a great victory over this Pas­sion.

OBJECTION. XXVI.

But though my fear of death be removeable, yet is not my fear of falling away from Grace to be removed.

SOLUTION.

32. ANd why do you not as well fear, that the earth will open, and swal­low you up quick? you have some dependance upon the Goodness and Providence of All­mighty God, that he will not thus deal with you; if you had not, your fear of the later would be as just, and as irremoveable as of the former. For what assurance have you against the one, that you have not against the other? are not the Souls of men as pretious in the Eyes of their Creatour and Redeemer, as are their bodies? can there be so great and pro­digious a judgement happpen to the Bodie of any man, as is Gods total and final withdraw­ing of Grace from his Soul? and have you [Page 104]not the same Good Word of God to depend upon in your fears of the one, as well as of the other? Doth God take care for oxen? doth he give and perform promises of Food and Rayment, and Health and Peace, &c. unto the Bodie, but is he a dry and a barren Wilderness (as the Prophet expresseth it, Jer. 2.31.) unto the Souls of his People? I shall leave you to ruminate on that Argument of Saint Paul, Rom. 8.32. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Remember, I pray, that God takes his Grace from no man, who doth not abuse it. The Talents were taken from none, but him who wrapt one up in a Napkin: from him it was taken away indeed, and that justly, be­cause he made no use of that, which was not only intended for use, but would have been increased by using. He could not help indeed the taking it from him, when God for his Sluggishness thought this the most proper punishment for the one, and reward for the other, upon their Reckoning for the Talents; but by Industry he might have prevented it, as did the other two Servants.

And to render you satisfyed with an evi­dent and full passage of Scripture, be pleased to peruse that of St. Paul to the Hebrews, Chap. 6.15. where after he had spoken of falling away, and the dreadful and irrecover­able estate of Apostacy, he addes, that he is [Page 105]perswaded better things of them, and such as are seen only in good Christians; and his ground of that no fear is, for that God would re­ward their former labour of Love with the grace of perseverance, the due reward of such (as like you) do make use of Grace giv­en, as our Saviour witnesseth, Mat. 25.29.

OBJECT. XXVII.

But sensible alteration in me, and the Promi­sed effects of Conversion, I finde none.

SOLUTION.

33. COnversion sounds not the same thing come as it did to the Jewes, & Heathen, in the Apostles times, and after the first Plan­tation of the Gospell, who are not only to suffer a Change in point of morall practise, but in point of belief. Neither are there any ex­traordinary gifts of tongues, and Miracles, or Healings, &c. to be powred out upon new Converts, for confirmation of Faith, and in­crease of believers. When the Jewes were come into the promised Land, Manna ceased, we are now in a way of ordinary dispensati­on, and though the Holy Ghost be the Au­thor of this, as well as of the other; and our [Page 106]submission to this, as deeply exacted, yet is the Method, and manner of the oeconomie, in some sort changed, (at least in the acciden­tall parts thereof;) experience of our Reli­gion, and the Faith of former ages, being argument enough to convince any rationall Souls, of the truth of it.

Such extraordinary gifts, I suppose you will not look for; but if for an extraordinary change, in your minde (though this may be thought superfluous) yet do but set Repen­tance from sin, against Continuance in sin, O­bedience, against Rebellion, Righteousness a­gainst Sin, a Child of God against a Child of Wrath, Heaven against Hell, the Fellowship of God and his Holy Angells, against the Companie of Divels and Wicked men, Eternall joyes a­gainst Eternall torments, and the alteration is visible enough. But if the Way bringing of you into this, must have been by miracle, as was the conversion of St. Paul. or with an audi­ble voice, as was Gods Revelation of himself to Samuel: the weaknesse of this expectation betrayes it self, by the singularity of it, car­rying with it a secret condemnation of the Stupidity, of other Christians, who go hood­wink't they know not whether, never think­ing on any such sensible Epiphanie, and ma­nifestation of Christ to their Souls.

OBJECT. XIII.

But the root of Bitterness, from which most of these Doubts, Scruples, and Feares do spring is my Aptness to fall into sin; together with such horrible thoughts Startling up in my Heart that I could even teare that Body to peices, and rend out the Soul that harbours, and Evaporates, such black, and Stinking Eruptions.

SOLUTION.

34. IF the sins you have formerly bin guilty of, are sins of wilfulness, and the Relapse, you may be thought to intend in your objection, be into such sins; then is your case so much the more dangerous, by how much the more certain it is, that such sins of Wilfulness are not reconcilable to a State of regeneracy. The determination whereof, I must referr to the Judgment of him, with whom you shall think fit to intrust the Anatomie of your soul. But if they are but sins of Humane, and Personall infirmity; then shall I offer to your consideration, these two things: First, that it being supposed that the sins you mention, are only sins of in­sirmity; [Page 108]that Relapses into such sins, are no new thing to every Child of God. as being Spotts so inseparable from a State of mortali­ty, that the Spirit of God hath Styled them by the mouth of Moses, the Spots of Gods Chil­dren. Deut. 32.5. aly. that it is not to be expected, that there should be an Equality, of the Number or Kindes of these sins, in all the Children of God; some being guilty of more, some of fewer; some of more of one kinde, of sins of infirmity; some of another; and much of this not only depending upon the diversity of the measure of grace given; but likewise upon the different complexions, and former habits of those Christians, before their Penitence and Reformation.

But if the case be of other Sins, viz. of Sins of Wilfulness, then observe, that there is a very considerable difference (at least in your apprehension perhaps) betwixt the aptness, or facility, of falling into Sin, and actuall relapsing thereinto. You finde (per­chance) the temptations are frequent and strong upon you, and your enemie very in­defatigable and restless; and you fear that the battery in the end, will be too forcible for the fortification to hold out against it is that these assaults of Flesh and bloud, will not only Storm, but take, or else surprise your Resolution: but all this while, this is but anxiety: and if those temptations do get ground of you; draw your will to some [Page 109]short parly with them, and thereby increase your fear of Yealding to this enemy; yet is there no relapse: and if there were, yet ought you to have conifort, against tempta­tions to dispair of finall victorie: because these utmost endeavors of yours together with your grief conceived for but inclining to these temptations, will render your conditi­on commiserable in the eyes of your tender, and compassionate Father: who will in the end, make his strength to be seen in your weakness; giving you good reason to ascribe, the cause as well as the honor of the victo­rie, to him alone, by whom you shall be able to do all things. Phil. 4.13.

But to prevent your danger by temptation you shall do well, to open your condition freely to some Grave, Pious, Discreet, and Learned Divine; one well seen in the Studie of mens Consciences, (a great rarity I must tell you amongst Protestants,) to have often conference with him, to confesse freely to him, to receive directions from him, for pre­venting your guilt and trouble, to communi­cate frequently: the blessed Sacrament hav­ing a speciall designation, for those in your condition, refreshing of wearied Souls be­ing the great intendment of that Commemo­ration of Christs death: All temptations under such hard usage as is now prescribed, will wither away, and dye in their prime; which by our private endeavours of eradication, do [Page 110]most times exceed our fears, as well as our expectations, in the growth of them.

As for the other part of your objection, wherein you complain of the depravity and corruption of your nature, belcht out many times in Prodigious thoughts of your heart, (it may be against the goodness, or justice, or perhaps against the very essence of the Divine Majestie,) the more holy you desire to be, the more grievous will such thoughts (as you call them) be unto you. Therefore be pleased to consider, 1. that in my judgment, many of these are not your own thoughts, or mo­tions of corrupt nature in you, as you con­ceive; but really injections of Satan, strong­ly savouring of malice against God, and the merciful work of our Redemption. This Itake to be it, which is called the Divells putting of somewhat into mens hearts, as he did the treason of Judas, the prevarication of Anani­as and Sapphira, Davids numbring the People, and St. Peters effeminate suggestions to our Sa­viour, &c. These sometimes are punish­ments for sin either in our selves or others, sometimes only trialls from God, for the manifestation of the power of his Grace, in mens souls: and I suppose they are not duly styld our thoughts, till they are admitted, and treated by us, they then become our finfull thoughts, assoon as we incline to en­tertain and in [...]r ace them. And 2ly. I doubt not, but such as these may be injected into [Page 111]holy men, as in the case of David, and Pe­ter, as we have instanced before. Yea and not so only but they may be hardned to, and imbraced, and consequently, their state in­dangered till renewed again by faith and Repentance.

Wherefore if you reject, and not own them; grieving for them as punishments for sin, praying against them, and perfectly hating them, with what e're is the Author of them, having an holy jealousie over your own na­ture, labouring to shut the Den of your heart against such intruders, and to give the posses­sion of the considerable fort to better friends to your salvation; you are not hereby endan­gered by present guilt, or engaged under just fear of Apostacy; your state in this (as in all other things) being not without example in the dearest Children of God.

OBJECTION. XXIX.

But God hath manifested his Displeasure against me in many accidents of life.

SOLUTION.

35. IT may be Gods not giving you Chil­dren is principally intended by you in this objection: the Key of the wombe be­ing [Page 112](as the Hebrewes were wont to say) in the Hands of God, there being indeed a more immediate coucurrence of the Divine Majestie required to the fruit thereof then to the production of other things in the or­dinary course of Providence. I have known this prevaile very farr with some of your sex, heightning their perplexityes from that of St. Paul to Timothy, 1. Ep. 2.15. from whence they conclude, that if a Woman continue barren in a state of Marriage, there is no hopes of her salvation; that depending so necessa­rily upon the former condition of Child-bear­ing, to this we answer by these degrees.

1. It is no mark of Gods irreversible anger against us that many Crosse accidents befall us in this life; seeing they are generally ac­knowledged, to be not only matter of ad­vantage to our Souls, bettering us by such chastments? but they ought to be apprehend­ed as Signatures, or Marks of our adoption; St. Paul having illegitimated all such as are not own'd by God for sons by these fatherly Corrections of them Heb. 12.8. very farr are they too from being distinctive prognosticks, of those everlasting distributions, at the day of judgment, in the opinion of King Solomon; who tells you that, no man knoweth either Love or Hatred by all that is before them. Ec­cle. 9.1.

2. Where God hath given Children, and by some evill accidents taken them away, [Page 113]there may more justly be supposed a mani­festation of Gods heavy displeasure, then where he gives no Children at all: yet that hath been the case of many (holy Men and Women, as appears in the example of Job. and David, whose Histories are furnisht with most remarkable passages to this purpose, their lives being chequered (as one may say) with various contingencies of good and evill.

3. Be it granted that barrenness, amongst the Jewes was reputed a curse, and that God threatneth it as a judgment upon them to have miscarrying wombs, and dry breasts. yet ought it not to have that Character with us Christians, who are not engaged to obedi­ence by promises of temporall, but of Spiri­tuall and eternall blessings: things of that con­cernment even in those dayes, (clouded with shadowing and carnall ordinances,) that God himself proposes them to the obedient Eunuches, as a full (indeed superabundant) satisfaction for their Sterility, Is. 56.5. the truth is, there ought not to be (neither is there without our own fault) any barrenness in Christians of either sex, the forming of Christ in their Souls (intimated by the A­postle, Gal. 4.19.) being a misticall birth in all the Sons and Daughters of God; and not without some reflection on this, did the Church appoint the Magnificat, of that bles­ed Virgin, to be publikely sung in her Li­turgie; it being hoped that every member [Page 114]thereof, would consider, that they were bound to bring forth this fruit unto God.

4. Lastly, for that of the Apostle to Timo­thy, the sense is so obvious, and that false in­terpretation so remote from the wisdome, goodness, and truth of God; that it is strange the Fancies even of women (who 'tis confest are very forcible) should be able by any chimistry of imagination, to extract such a disproportionall meaning from that text. For St. Paul. having fixt that sex, in their due place of subordination in the Church; that he might give them some rea­sons to be content with that portion, men­tions the order of their Creation, the wo­man being not only formed after Adam, as that signifies order of time, but of Nature also, (the Man being as one may speak the first running of the metall) and her being first in the transgrssion, (a token of weak­nesse and frailty) as the Grounds upon which he builds a conclusion, or canon for the order; not so likely to stand fast, upon the bare authority even of the Apostle himself without being cemented and crankt with very good and undeniable reasons. but yet, not to leave them under the dishonour of being first in that fatall Crime, (Ringleaders in Rebellion seldome tasting, of that mercy which is shewed to their followers) and like­wise to keep them from being chrust out of that place, by the anger and insolence of [Page 115]the other sex, the Apostle tells them that by the fruit of their Womb they made amends for the miseries and mischiefs of their fault; the Remedy comming by them (namely the incarnation of Christ) as well as the disease, of the efficacy whereof they were likewise to have their part if they should continue to per­for me the conditions of that mercifull Co­venant; the Apostle very seasonably mind­ing them, of constancy in their professions, and Practise: of which the first of that sex, shewed no good example, in her hearkning to the suggestions of the Serpent in Paradise.

More (perhaps) might be sayd to this purpose, but the apprehensions I have of your abilities and art of discerning, beyond the common capacity of your sex, having already check't me, for falling into this so­lemne, and foreseen Digression.

Thus, Madam, have I given you my thoughts, in these generall, and conjecturall applications hopeing that they may possibly light on the whole, or some part of the cause of your trouble. I have offered them to you, not so much in acknowledgment of those favours, I have heretofore received from your self, and your dear Husband (since with God) (though my obligation, there­by could not be discharged, by a farr great­er attempt to recompence them) as for the tender respect I have to your afflicted state. That this should do a perfect cure (though I [Page 116]know God doth (manie times) great things by small meanes,) I have no grounded hopes to believe: not only because of the defects, and impotence of my endeavours, but for that difeases of this kinde, are influenced up­on by the distempers, or complexion of the Patient, and have a secret and maligne aspect upon them from many circumstances, not guessable (I presume) by persons more A­cute, then I can deserve to be thought.

I know Divines should not undertake to cure, like Empericks, by Guesses, and at ran­dome; and therefore, madam I have not ob­scurely intimated, my desire unto you in this Paper to make a very seasonable and home address to some one of a Thousand, Job. 33.23. A skilfull Phisician of Souls; that you may not be thought, to subordinate the care of your better, and eternall part, to that Cabinet of beautifull earth, wherein God hath lock't up that rich Jewell for some few years: I am confident Madam, it is not on­ly the best, but the only Counsell you can follow, with assurance (by Gods blessing) of cureing these wonnds in your Spirit: no if I have but cleansed and Wip't, or done the least other good office, of helping forward their cure; as I ought (and you) to give all the Prayse thereof to God, so shall it be e­steemed a plentifull Reward, for this little Labour of Madam,

Your affectionate Servant in Christ Jesus.

A PRAYER.

OAllmighty God, the Creator and Preserver of Humane Spirits, the searcher of all Hearts, who know­est, and tryest all our wayes, and understandest our thoughts afarr off: from thy love and bounty it is, and not from our desert, that we have any measure of grace, whereby we may know, and obey thy Will, any impression of Godly sorrow, when we have broaken thy lawes, any desire to resolution and performance of what is pleasing in thy sight, after we have erred and strayed from the pathes of thy commandments: mercifully I beseech thee to behold all such as are grieved, opprest, and per­plexed in Spirit, through the guilt of sin, weak­nesse of Grace, frailty of Nature, or the devi­ces of our grand enemie, and accuser. Espe­cially be mindfull of thy Servant B. B. who hath aesired the prayers of me thy most unworthy Ser­vant, and grievous finner. O Lord, to thee [Page]are known all the causes, and accasions of her trouble and confusion of Spirit; the distractions and terrors of her soul, are not hid from thine Eyes: O thou that hast the Balm of Gilead, the Soul-healing Oyle of mercy, and pardon of sin, pour the same I most humbly beseech into her wounded Spirit, bind up this bruised Reed, kindle this Smoaking Flax, preserve her from the Snares of Satan, free her from the delusions and errors of a deceitfull imagination, and vouch chase to her such a measure of Spirituall Consolution, that her soul may be comforted and strengthned thereby; to the finishing of her course with joy, through a finall Victorie over all her Enemies, by the goodness and power of Jesus Christ our Saviour, Amen.

FINIS.

Books Printed and Sold by T. Garthwait at the little North door of St. Pauls.

  • B. Chappels Methodus Concionandi. 120
  • —Notes upon 103. Psalm, being a Praxis upon that Method. 80
  • A Commentary on the 5 Books of Moses or Pentateuch by J. Trap. 40
  • Remains of Mr. Geo. Herbert. late Orator of the university of Cambridge.
  • Reliquiae Wottonianae, A Collection of the in­comparable pieces of that great Master of Language and Art. Sr. Henry Wotton Kt. Provost of Eton. &c. 120
  • The Works of that profound Divine Dr. Tho. Jackson Pres. of Gorp. Chr. Col. Oxon. in folio. in 3 Vollumes.
  • Dr. Cosins Scholasticall History of the Canon of the Scripture. 40
  • Dr. Waltons Introduction to the Oriental Languages. in 120
  • Dr. Steward Sermon at Paris of Hezekiah's Reformation. 120
  • The Conversion of Rigep Dandulo, a Turk, to the Christian Faith, by Mr. Gunning. 80
  • The Rationale on the Book of Com. Prayer, by Mr. Sparrow. 120
  • The whole Duty of Man. A Book necessary for all Families 80
  • [Page]Mr. Joseph Mead his Dissertationum Triga. 40
  • Dr. Dees Actions and Conferences with Spi­rits &c. Set out by Dr. Casaubon. folio
School Books.
  • Mr. Walkers Treatise of English Particles. 80
  • Mr. Busbies Horat. Castigat.
  • Mr. Busbies Juvenal. Castigat.
  • Mr. Busbies Persius. Castigat.
  • In usum Scholae Westmonaster.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. Searching, reading, printing, or downloading EEBO-TCP texts is reserved for the authorized users of these project partner institutions. Permission must be granted for subsequent distribution, in print or electronically, of this EEBO-TCP Phase II text, in whole or in part.